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December 18, 2006

Sen. Tim Johnson Conscious, "At Times"

"At times" since his brain surgery.

Sen. Tim Johnson has been conscious at times since his emergency brain surgery last week, his spokeswoman said Monday. But he is currently being sedated so he can rest.

The South Dakota Democrat has made it through the first 72 hours since the Wednesday evening brain surgery, spokeswoman Julianne Fisher said, a benchmark that doctors consider a good sign for recovery. The senator remains in critical but stable condition, she added.

Fisher said the next ``target'' for doctors is to watch his progress over the next week.

The senator showed some signs of recovery late last week, responding to voices, opening his eyes and moving his limbs. But his long-term prognosis is still unclear.

Johnson's sudden illness has raised questions about the Democrats' one-vote majority in the upcoming Senate session. South Dakota's Republican governor, Mike Rounds, would appoint a replacement if Johnson's seat were vacated by his death or resignation.

A Republican appointee would create a 50-50 tie and effectively allow the GOP to retain Senate control because of Vice President Dick Cheney's tie-breaking vote.

There is ample precedent for senators to continue to hold office while incapacitated.

I can't help but notice that Johnson's minor interaction with the world is enough to keep him in the Senate, but such wasn't enough to keep Terry Schiavo alive.

Now, no one's claiming Johnson is brain-dead, of course. But still, the Democrats seem to have a newfound respect for an occasional opening of the eyes.


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posted by Ace at 02:06 PM

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