Friday, October 07, 2005

Denny Hastert's Pattern of Squandered Leadership

If one thing marks the tenure of Denny "J. Dennis" Hastert as Speaker of the U.S. House, it is that over 11 years of so-called "leadership" by Republicans (six of those by "the coach"), real leadership in challenging times has been squandered.

Count on this being one of the topics you'll see plenty of here over the next several months. There's more material than in one of the USS Hastert's suits. Hastert's really just continuing the fine job of Gingrich and Livingston, his predecessors "on the other side," as they like to say.

Take a look at this gem, from the Speaker's own campaign website, which presumably brags about his involvement in the arm-twisting (and quite possibly bribery) that resulted in passage of the Medicare drug bill, now estimated to cost more than $1.2 Trillion (yep, that's a T). (When the campaign gets embarrassed and takes this article down, you can find its cached version here.)

Now, compare that to what happened on the House floor Friday afternoon, when Hastert and his cronies literally gang-raped consumers on behalf of Big Oil, and lifted environmental standards for the sake of Big Oil, and gave the rights to closed military bases to Big Oil on top. All for the sake of reducing the price of oil in the (relatively) short-term. The future consequences of today's legislation passage, if enacted, are devastating throughout the Gulf Coast region over the long-term.

And if the rules you have written don't suit your purpose, just change them along the way.

Alison at Philosophe Forum has done a great job of rounding up the major points of Friday's Republican victory on the House floor.

It's nothing more than shameless grandstanding (idiotic, really, if you consider all the facts known today). Squandered leadership, Hastert-style. Lies masquarading as leadership, pretending to be experienced and knowledgable. You twist arms, and threaten colleagues with ruin if they don't help you in your task to do someone else's bidding.

And then the money flows into the party from K Street, which is similarly threatened with a form of extermination if they don't start heaping the cash on Republicans, instead of "the other side." It flows like warm, pan gravy over chicken. And they choke it down like wild-eyed hogs.

Hastert is in league with the players who destroyed Jim Wright, the last powerful Democratic House Speaker, for extending votes, charging that Wright's wife was somehow being paid by his company in an alleged ghost payroll scheme. Wright was no saint. Hastert's mentor, Newt Gingrich, to this day calls Wright a crook. No doubt Hastert does, too.

Somehow, apparently, Jim Wright's sins were worse than the hundreds of billions of dollars of Your Money (as Junior likes to say) the team of Blunt Hastert and DeLay has given to corporate welfare queens, denying their oversight responsibility altogether.

But you know who the real crooks are.

And you know squandered leadership when you see it. It's not hard work to twist the arms of your colleagues until they yield to your zeal to put party over nation on every vote. It's hard work to live with someone else's convictions when they differ from yours.

And you know it's not hard work to turn over war powers to one man; hard work is study, deliberation and compromise. You know it's not hard work to hand over federal lands to the wealthiest, most profitable entities our country has ever known. It's not hard work to gut environmental protections for neighboring communities of the new refineries you'll be paying for at the pump.

Hard work is saying no to the mighty and powerful, and standing up for the least of our society who are being left behind; those left choking on the additional tons of toxins being pumped into the atmosphere, preparing to freeze this coming winter.

You know who the crooks are. They dress nicely and collect large salaries made up of your money, and they snicker amongst themselves as they call each other "gentleman" in front of the C-SPAN cameras, and speak of their lofty "values" and thank the "leadership" for its support.

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