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Bill Kauffman

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Blues for Jimmy Duncan


Were Pulitzer Prize-winning “author” John F. Kennedy — I mean Ted Sorensen — to write Profiles in Courage today, taking his subjects from the contemporary political world, his pickings would be mighty slim. I suppose he might produce one of those comically brief novelty books, à la Steve Miller’s Higher Poetics or Hot Stuff by Mamie Eisenhower.

For my part, I can’t think of a sharper modern political profile in courage than that cut by Tennessee Republican John J.“Jimmy” Duncan, Jr., who represented Knoxville in the US House of Representatives for thirty years before his retirement in 2019.

Jimmy — full disclosure: I am a friend and admirer — was one of the six brave and prescient House Republicans who resisted intense lobbying by George W. Bush and his lying courtiers and the braying of jingoes to vote against the US invasion of Iraq in October 2002.

Given that the architects of this catastrophe paid no price whatsoever — that will have to wait for the afterlife — and the Republican politicians who gutlessly caved to Bush went right on being reelected, and the talking heads who squealed with delight over the rockets’ red glare experienced none of the discomforts of life during wartime, the least we can do for that noble sextet is to say their names: Jimmy Duncan, John Hostettler, Amory Houghton, Jim Leach, Connie Morella, Ron Paul.
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