POP quiz time; close your books:
1) Name the first Bush II administration Commerce secretary.
2) Name the first Bush II cabinet nominee to be withdrawn.
3) Name all the Democrats who served in the Bush cabinet.
4) Who is Thomas E. White?
• Extra credit: find a YouTubes video featuring Brian Williams in January 2001, expressing concern over, say, Dick Cheney's failure/refusal to divest himself of stocks or create a blind trust in a timely fashion, despite the obvious conflicts of interest. Or Donald Rumsfeld, same. Or Karl Rove. Or Paul O'Neill. Or Mitch Daniels. Or video of George W. Bush apologizing for that. Or for anything.
(As always, any little brown-noser seeking extra credit is dropped one letter grade.)
Okay, okay. That's the point. It's different this time. It's called getting off to a good start. Surely you agree that doing what Bush did is the absolute wrong way to go about things?
Well, yeah and no, as Ron Nasty would say. The President is really good in this format, as good or better than Bill Clinton, without the baggage; as good, maybe, as Kennedy. It could be a very effective way of neutralizing bullshit. But it runs the opposite risk, of making bullshit seem valid, and for now it's leaving the tinny aftertaste of unrequited post-partisanship. See Lance. At some point this PR fest is over, and once it's over, it's dead. Nobody remembers who the Secretary of Commerce is, or what he does, let alone that he's a Republican. Heaven forfend that someone mistake me for a Beltway insider or Inside Baseball type; I'll be happy to concede that you and half the population know more about it than I do. But the counter-argument is that it doesn't matter, whether or not it works. Crack open the skulls of half the Republican House members, and fill the empty space inside with a tantalizing mélange of arugula, organic chickpeas, and cruelty-free figs in a marsala/honey reduction with artisan pygmy-goat cheese; it doesn't matter. If some vast pacific calm settles on the world for the next four years, and no one ever finds anything else to talk about, it still won't matter. God help us, maybe you really do believe this post-partisanship business. Still, at some point, it'll reverse course and begin to look like a dodge.
This is certainly not the complaint of a Democrat who thinks he deserves more, nor of a Leftist left out in the cold (from My First Book of Democratic Primary Verses--like you need to explain to the American left that it might experience mild disappointment in a Democratic administration!). It's simple experience: not rushing off to apolo-splain every misstep sure didn't impede the Reagan or Bush administrations.
You wanna be better than them? Fine. Get rid of whomever thought Tom Daschle was a good idea in the first place.
If post-partisanship leads you to believe that Tom Daschle was an effective leader (or even an explicable one) in the United States Congress, or that his career since is one which inspires confidence, then Post-Partisanship should be a psychiatric diagnostic category. The vetting process is supposed to catch things that might otherwise slip through. It's not a substitute for judgment. Still, let's set his vetting aside, even though his tax returns seem to have come chewed by rodents. Forget his regrettable Congressional leadership. Let's table the question of whether he skirted lobbying laws after he was voted out. Daschle, and Mrs. Daschle, the former Linda Hall, gorge themselves at the public/private K-street buffet, a fact that casual acquaintance, let alone serious investigation, should have told you. Daschle spent twenty-five years in Congress (and what a twenty-five years those were for Democrats!). That ought to earn you, maybe, a gold watch. Not the keys to a gold Rolls.
1) Donald Evans 2) Linda Chavez 3) Norman "Lonesome Norm" Minetta 4) Enron-linked contract-peddling Secretary of the Army who wasn't fired until he sided with General Shinseki on Iraq troop levels in 2003
Score: 25 points for each correct answer; 2 points if you vaguely recalled any of it after you saw the answers