It was Father's Day, 1964, when the Phillies' Jim Bunning, a father of seven, took the mound against the Mets.
Ninety pitches later, Bunning had struck out 10 and allowed not one batter to reach first base. Twenty-seven up, 27 down. The first perfect game in 86 years in the National League, and the finest hour of the Hall of Famer's baseball career.
Beginning last week, Jim Bunning took the Senate floor for five straight days to object to Harry Reid's call for unanimous consent to waive through a $10 billion spending bill. First, the Kentucky senator demanded, show me how we're going to pay for it.
His own leadership abandoned Bunning. Susan Collins of Maine assured the Senate and country that Republicans did not back their colleague: "Senator Bunning's views do not represent a majority of the caucus. It's important that the American people understand that there is bipartisan support for extending these vital programs."
Had Bunning blocked rescue flights to Port au Prince or Santiago, or ammunition for the Marines in Marja?
No. Bunning had held up for a couple of days a vote on a $10 billion bill to extend unemployment benefits, make payments to doctors under Medicare and extend satellite TV to rural America. Reportedly, some 2,000 Transportation Department workers were furloughed for a few days.
"If we cannot pay for a bill that all 100 senators support," Bunning said, "how can we tell the American people with a straight face that we will ever pay for anything?"
Indeed, the behavior of senators suggests that neither party appreciates the depth of the crisis we are in or the pain that will be required to get us out. Last week, Bunning did more than any senator in many moons to raise the consciousness of the country to the magnitude of the deficit-debt crisis.
His taking to the barricades may have inconvenienced some, but Bunning forced us all, briefly, to stare into the chasm.
Consider. Congress this year will spend $1.6 trillion more than it collects in revenue, with the largest outlays in that FY 2010 budget for defense at $719 billion and Social Security at $721 billion.
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