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Thursday, March 31, 2005

Empty Suit Thursday: In the vanguard

Posted by: Hammer / 4:16 PM

If Google actually indexed 3WN, I'd be concerned. We've got the Star Tribune writing this:
Now comes Sen. Norm Coleman, again in high dudgeon, concerning the managerial abilities of U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan. Coleman says that Annan "is responsible for the failed management that resulted in the fraud and abuse of the Oil-for-Food Program. His lack of leadership, combined with conflicts of interest and a lack of responsibility and accountability point to one, and only one, outcome: his resignation."

Well. How about we try substituting President Bush for Annan, and substitute "prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo" -- or "intelligence failures," or any of half a dozen other transgressions readily available? Then Coleman might have a point. As it stands, he doesn't.

As Coolhand once wrote, "If it's not brand new, it's true". And the Strib's sentiment is clearly not brand new. I made the same point four months ago. The Strib goes on to note:
The commission found that U.N. procurement officials were not aware of Kojo Annan's connection to Cotecna, so it could not have affected the company's selection. … Moreover, under U.N. policy and practice, "the secretary general is not involved in procurement decisions."

…In the end, this isn't about Oil-for-Food. It's about the Bush administration's dislike of Kofi Annan. Coleman is simply the designated administration hit man. But the weapon Coleman has chosen, the Oil-for-Food Program, is a wimpy little toy. And no matter how much Coleman tries to make it look larger, that's what it will remain.

Also, we noted last week Smilin' Norm's drift toward the center on a few issues. We applaud the votes, but suspect the motives. Last week, the Kansas City Star noted the change in the normally reliable Coleman. This week, it's the Redwood Falls Gazette:
What's up with Norm?

For the first two years of his term, Republican Sen. Norm Coleman was a poster child for G.W.

In fact, he was dubbed a Bush Boy from the get-go. He voted pretty much along party lines. Now there seems to be a few changes in the way Norm is carrying out his job. I like what I'm seeing, but by no means do I trust the man any further than I can throw him. …

Norm has begun to stray from party line votes and represent the interests of the people. To begin with, Coleman voted with Democrats to increase minimum wage. This is a huge departure for any Republican to make. Then Coleman voted against drilling for oil in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, which I am sure Bush and his supporters from the oil industry, like Vice President Dick Chaney, saw as an affront to their personal interests.

…So, what is he doing?

The theories are wide and wild. Some say he's reinventing himself ... again. Others say he might return to the Democratic Party. Some say he's off his rocker. I think they are all wrong.

We like them to have an independent edge so those in Washington, D.C. can't take their vote for granted. This may be what Norm is up to. He may be embracing his role as a Minnesota politician.

Coleman's an opportunist with ambition. You can't win a Republican primary without getting votes from the UN-fearing, gay-hating, Schiavo-protesting right. You can't win a national election without winning votes from the center. Coleman is hedging his bets. He can't entirely rely on the helpful press that put Bush in office in 2000 and doesn't have close ties to the sleaze merchants who brought us the Swift Boat Liars in 2004. Playing the independent on a few minor issues makes him more of a national player.

The nuclear option is still alive

According to the Strib, the lobbying is gearing up to decide whether the Senate Republicans will go nuclear and try to end the filibuster of judicial nominees:
Opponents of Frist's threat hope to turn enough GOP senators to deny him the 51 votes he needs. In Minnesota, members of pro-choice NARAL are going door to door telling voters that conservative Supreme Court nominees could mean the end of protections under Roe vs. Wade and urging them to pressure Republican Sen. Norm Coleman, who has indicated he would support party leaders if they sought to end filibusters, to change his mind.

Otherwise, Tim Stanley, executive director of the NARAL's Minnesota chapter, said of Coleman, "That's going to be a vote that will haunt him for the next four years including his re-election in 2008."

Coleman will vote for the filibuster. It's a naked power grab to feed the fringe groups that make up the Republican base. He can't let them down. Not now. Not ever.

Situational ethics

I think Sen. Coburn should just take his ball and go home if the other kids won't let him play by his own rules:
But Coburn, an obstetrician and gynecologist with a thick mane of salt-and-pepper hair, is practicing medicine in violation of the very strict rules of the Senate. Those rules prohibit senators from earning outside income from their professions or businesses after they are sworn in as members of the upper chamber of Congress.

"My medical ethics supersede the Senate ethics," Coburn said in a brief interview. "I have pregnant patients and I can't abandon them."

Coburn is in negotiations with the Senate Ethics Committee, asking for a waiver to allow him to continue his medical practice while he serves in the Senate. He received a waiver from the House when he served there as a representative from 1995 to 2001.

Sources say Coburn has threatened to quit the Senate if he does not get what he wants, but he denied that.

"No, I'm going to practice medicine one way or the other," Coburn insisted. "I'm going to stay in the Senate. I am."

Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.) said he is impressed that Coburn wants to continue practicing medicine. But he said, "maybe there would be other situations where it wouldn't be so wonderful."

His ethics supersede Senate ethics. Is that how it works? "No, no, no – I don't have to follow your rules. See, I have my own rules." The ladies seem to like the slightly dangerous men who live life by their own rules – Jimbo Jones, to name one – but if Smilin' Norm opened his wallet for a backbone implant instead of the extra coat of lacquer on the new choppers, he'd insist that Coburn play by the rules he knew about when he ran for office.

And someone explain to me why a pregnant woman in Oklahoma would choose an Ob/Gyn with a history of alleged involuntary sterilization and a job 1,500 miles away.


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