Archive: May, 2010
It's understandable that relatively scant attention is being paid this week to the latest scathing report about the Minerals Management Service. Most people tend to nod off at the mere mention of any bureaucratic government entity, especially one with a name like "Minerals Management Service."
But the MMS happens to be the federal Interior Department office that is supposed to oversee oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, to act (or at least give the pretense of acting) as a watchdog for the public, to ensure that the oil companies make their money without despoiling the environment. The problem is, the federal watchdog has long been an industry doormat. MMS has long allowed the people who rape our natural resources to police themselves - and now (big surprise!) we're reaping the whirlwind. And it's a bipartisan failure.
The weather is hot and tempers are short - John McCain: "Complete the dang fence!" Barack Obama: "Plug the damn hole!" - so perhaps today we should forgo the weighty issues in favor of something that will go down nice and easy, like a gin and tonic.
And where better to have fun in the sun than South Carolina? Seriously, if the cable programmers at Showtime are in the hunt for yet another racy series, they'd be well advised to simply call it "South Carolina." Few other states can boast of a political culture that yields such rich true-life material – as evidenced by the new not-so-Harlequin tale of the lady and the blogger.
This is getting farcical. Joe Sestak, Pennsylvania's Democratic senatorial candidate, continues to say that the Obama White House sought last summer to lure him away from the Senate race (thus clearing the field for Arlen Specter) by offering him a juicy federal job - yet Sestak continues to stonewall on the details. Since February, he has played this perverse game of peekaboo on Comcast, Fox News, MSNBC, NBC News, CBS News, CNN, and in the pages of The Washington Post. I may have missed a few. The CNN appearance, which aired late yesterday, bordered on the tragicomic.
John King asked Sestak, "What specifically did they offer you, sir?"
Sestak replied, "I'll let others talk about their role."
My Sunday print column, updated and expanded:
T. J. Rooney's top priority last Wednesday was to get with the program. He dutifully did so. It's amazing sometimes how swiftly these politicians can rewrite their own convictions to fit the exigencies of the moment.
Oops, he did it again.
Here's tea-party hero Rand Paul, in a newly-unearthed letter to a Kentucky newspaper, telling us that it's perfectly fine, in a "free society," for private businesses to discriminate against black Americans:
Briefly today, I want to note the downfall this week of another incumbent.
That would be Campbell Brown, the 8 p.m. host on CNN. Judging by the lousy ratings that her show garnered - according to Nielsen, she drew only 314,000 viewers last Friday, a nationwide tally that's roughly equivalent to the circulation of a certain big-city newspaper - I assume that most people will shrug at the news that she is giving up the show and leaving the network.
To cope with all the copious political news, let's tally up the prizes.
TV Ad of the Year (so far): Joe Sestak's 30-second demolition of Arlen Specter, which arguably triggered the upstart challenger's surge to a decisive victory in the Pennsylvania Democratic senatorial primary. Attack ads are effective only when they tap into prevailing voter sentiments. In this case, Pennsylvania Democrats merely needed to be reminded of why they were already wary of party-switching Specter. Not only did the ad depict Specter acknowledging his own opportunism, it also featured a clip of Specter being praised by a Republican president (George W. Bush) whose mere screen presence still nauseates most Democrats. Was the Sestak ad rough and simplistic? Absolutely. But, as Specter himself has known all too well, politics ain't beanbag - as evidenced by his own TV ad, which unsuccessfully sought to smear Sestak's 30-year career in the U.S. Navy. Fittingly, in his concession speech last night, Specter thanked his media strategist - a longtime Republican.