Secrets of hypocrisy
By Michael H. O’Donnell
A day doesn’t go by without hearing the steady whine of the political jet engines of the Republican Party winding up to take off on the Obama Administration’s “lack of transparency.”
You name it and the GOP has stuck a zero transparency label on it.
Drone warfare, Benghazi, Fast and Furious and “secret formulas” for determining air quality rules at the EPA all get the “let’s get all this out in the open“ treatment.
Tea Party Republican Sen. Rand Paul spoke for 13 hours straight last week just to push Obama to come clean on the question of whether, ever, under any circumstances the U.S. military would use a drone to kill an American citizen while he or she was munching on a breakfast burrito outside a fast food restaurant in Kalamazoo.
Like Jimmy Stewart fighting for a Boy Rangers camp in “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” Rand talked until he was blue in the face — an unnatural shade for someone from a red state. Unlike Stewart’s character in the movie, Rand didn’t collapse from exhaustion. He stopped to use the bathroom.
But Rand’s filibuster, designed to hold up a confirmation vote on John Brennan to head the CIA, was not in vain.
Due to Rand’s pointed questions, we can be sure that our government will never use a hellfire missile to take out Jane Fonda or Kent State. Seriously, Rand did get an answer from the Obama administration on the president’s authority to use drones against American citizens on U.S. soil. The answer was “no.”
My straw boater gets tipped for Rand’s determination to keep an important issue public.
As a journalist, it’s my profound belief that nothing good happens in the dark unless its romantic or you’re after catfish. Smoke-filled rooms are best left to firefighters and a secret deal always deals someone out.
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis once said, “Sunlight is the best antiseptic.”
Or as the cowboy with an arrow sticking out of his leather vest once muttered, “Just give it to me straight, Doc.”
This newspaper’s coverage of secret dealings gone sour has made big headlines several times recently — just ask the Blackfoot school board. So it struck me as odd when some people who consider themselves “Real Republicans” — the right flank of the Bannock County GOP — kicked me out of their meeting Friday night.
To be fair, I identified myself as a First Amendment infiltrator.
“Is anyone here a representative of the media?” was the questioned posed.
Since I was the only one in the room packing only a camera bag and reporter notebooks, it seemed futile not to raise my hand. As heads in the room cranked around to take a gander, I felt like a yellow jacket at a picnic.
“Don’t mind me, folks,” I wanted to say. “I won’t steal anything. I just came for the entertainment.”
To be doubly fair, the county GOP’s executive committee adjourned to take a vote on whether I could stay or pack my camera bag and go. Many of those folks voted to keep the proceedings open to the world and my prying pen and pad. But meeting a unanimous requirement with that crowd is tough sledding.
Instead of getting the first-hand skinny on party in-fighting over the wisdom of establishing a state-run health insurance exchange, this journalist was relegated to the cool night air. What’s sad is I’m sure both sides of the issue had some good points to make. It’s doubtful anyone in that room was listening to the other side, but perhaps the public would have appreciated the debate.
The First Amendment has always held more charm for me than the second. If someone shoots their mouth off, no one goes to the hospital or the morgue.
And no one expects a Lincoln-Douglas masterpiece at one of these political donnybrooks, but little gems always shine in a slick of mud.
When tempers flair, true personalities are revealed. Peacemakers and partisan poppycock both stand out. The disconnect between reason and volume becomes obvious.
My disappointment at depriving readers of real life theatre was swallowed by the hypocrisy of the self-proclaimed “True Republicans” voting against transparency.
If it’s important for a Democratic president to reveal his motives and thinking behind government action or inaction, shouldn’t the same hold true for self-appointed guardians of the Constitution?
Anything else smacks of situational ethics. What’s good for the goose is sauce for the gander.
You can’t champion something you don’t practice — and Republicans need practice.
Rand’s rambling in the U.S. Senate was done to enforce our rights as citizens. It seems odd that the late Strom Thurmond of South Carolina set the record when he filibustered for 24 hours straight against — of all things, civil rights.
Michael H. O’Donnell is the assistant managing editor of the Idaho State Journal.