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Thursday, April 07, 2005

Empty Suit Thursday: Double standards

Posted by: Hammer / 1:13 PM

Minnesota's junior senator, Smilin' Norm Coleman, wrote an editorial in the Star Tribune this week affirming his call for Kofi Annan's resignation. The results were not good:
After reading Wednesday's error-ridden and specious editorial, I feel compelled to review the facts behind my call for the resignation of U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

For six months, I have insisted that Annan be held accountable for the U.N.'s gross mismanagement of the Oil-for-Food Program. Last week, the U.N.'s own investigators issued a report criticizing Annan's own conduct -- including his failure to resolve a serious conflict of interest concerning his son -- and the conduct of his chief of staff. ...

Annan, as the U.N.'s CEO, is ultimately responsible for the organization's performance. My call for Annan's resignation was not, and is not, based on the misconduct of his son; instead, Annan must be held accountable for his failures and his organization's widespread ineptitude. In short, the buck stops with Annan. ...

Most disturbing was the Volcker panel's finding concerning Annan's chief of staff, who -- on the day after the Volcker committee was created -- authorized the destruction of three years' worth of documents. This report did not "exonerate" Annan -- rather, it chastises him for yet another serious lapse of management, and identifies more serious misconduct by Annan's hand-picked advisers.

The secretary-general's failings, however, are not limited to past mismanagement. For instance, he has failed to strip Sevan's diplomatic immunity, despite the wealth of evidence establishing Sevan's misconduct. Worse, the U.N. also agreed to reimburse Sevan out of oil revenues from the program for his hefty legal fees resulting from its investigation. That the U.N. would pay for Sevan's defense, when it has found him responsible for unethical misconduct, is beyond comprehension.

The Strib published a couple letters taking Smilin' Norm to task for his double standard -- why is Annan responsible the actions of those his appoints, but Bush and Rumsfeld are not? That's an excellent question, but the better comparisons are in the Congress. If Annan is responsible for Sevan's misconduct, is Sen. Mel Martinez responsible for his staff members' misconduct?

Then there's the case of Tom DeLay. Reports this week surfaced showing that DeLay had paid his wife and daughter some $500,000 from campaign funds -- far more than Kojo Annan may have received. And tell me, Sen. Coleman, whether you can comprehend this: the men and women charged with determining whether Tom DeLay has breached any ethics rules have contributed money to DeLay's defense. In short, Smilin' Norm is making a purely political play. He holds Kofi Annan to one standard, but gives Republicans and their donors a free pass. That's not surprising, but it is inexcusable for the chair of the Senate's permanent subcommittee on investigations.

Shwew. No coup

Smilin' Norm visited Hugo Chavez in Venezuela this week. Thankfully, the CIA didn't sneak a radiological weapon into Norm's pearly whites:
US Senator Norm Coleman (R-Mi) classified his brief weekend meeting with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez as very "positive and constructive" and expressed hope that mutual interest in Venezuelan petroleum would keep their relationship afloat.

Coleman, who chairs the US Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, told reporters outside Miraflores, the Venezuelan Presidential palace, that "President Chavez clearly articulated a desire for better relations with the United States."

Coleman continued, noting that "[Chavez] also articulated differences and concerns of past grievances, but then made a statement: let us turn the page." ...

Evidence collected by New York human rights attorney Eva Golinger has provided evidence that the US has prior knowledge of and supported the short-lived coup that toppled the Chavez administration for 48 hours and suspended the Constitution and all democratic institutions in the country. Chavez has also warned that the US is planning to assassinate him....

Coleman, a former NY democrat who switched parties in 1996 and launched an unsuccessful bid for Minnesota's governorship to Jesse Ventura in 1998, attempted to sooth Chavez' fears that Washington was planning to assassinate him. "I told him, ‘don’t lose sleep at night over that,'" the Senator recounted "...the United States, the CIA and the US military are not and will not be involved in any efforts to destabilize him or attack him in any ways."

What a folksy way of reassuring a man that a foreign government is not trying to assassinate him. Were I Chavez, I would take little comfort in Coleman's platitudes. So long at we import 15% of our oil from Venezuela, our government will have a keen interest in who runs their government. Leftists need not apply -- no matter how many votes they get.

Other posts

Al Franken is moving to Minnesota in preparation for unseating Coleman in 2008. Here's one reason why Smilin' Norm hates the UN.

Constituent Contact

I've given up -- clearly, Smilin' Norm does not respond to emails. I'll be following up via fax this week.

It has been 43 days since I first contacted Smilin' Norm to ask why he supports personal accounts and opposes privatization. I still await his response.

It has been 30 days since I first contacted Smilin' Norm to ask whether he made up his mind on Donald Rumsfeld. I still await his response.


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