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Advertise on the Tentacle

August 17, 2004

Random Political Hit-and-Runs

Richard B. Weldon Jr.

My Sunday morning newspaper review includes the Frederick News-Post, the Hagerstown Herald Mail, The (Baltimore) Sun, and the subject campaign propaganda for the Democratic challenger for the presidency.

Feel free to accuse me of rampant partisanship. Dismiss my criticism as poor sportsmanship, just another Republican fussing about how the incumbent President can't get a break from the crack reporting staff at The Washington Post.

When you've finished dismissing my criticism, take a minute to review why I feel so strongly that this paper has lost all credibility as an independent editorial voice in covering the national political scene.

Sunday's paper included a front-page story by two reporters that serves as the first of a three-part series on the policies of the Bush Administration.

The Sunday story followed this fair and balanced headline: Bush Forces A Shift In Regulatory Thrust. The article detailed how the Occupational Health and Safety Administration had been forced to become more "business-friendly," and the upshot is that these reporters believe we are less safe as a result.

Monday and Tuesday will feature more articles in this series. Monday promises an article critical on how the Bush Administration uses science to evaluate new regulations. Tuesday's piece will pick apart the Administration's handling of coal mining.

No doubt the Kerry/Edwards campaign bandwagon will have canned responses ready to issue that accompany the Post headlines, and expand on criticism by environmentalists and conservation groups.

Interesting timing on this series, huh? The stories hit the newsstand just as Kerry/Edwards begin their most focused, negative ad campaign designed to knock President Bush down prior to the GOP Convention.

One surprise in all of this political intrigue, though. The national polling data shows the President's favorable rating right around 51%, very similar to former President Clinton at the same point in his re-election cycle. Kerry/Edwards have been taking their best shots (aided by The New York Times and Washington Post) and a bevy of Hollywood types have used their star power to attack the Bush Administration.

Count on the GOP Convention to be a high profile, positive affair focusing on rallying the base and reaching out to independents and undecided voters. In spite of the best efforts of The Washington Post, this one won't be a cakewalk for the Democrats!

* * * * * * * * * *

In the meantime, New Jersey Governor James McGreevey has wrapped himself in a declaration of his sexuality as he announced his resignation, effective November 15. He professed to an extramarital homosexual relationship with a staff member while standing next to his wife.

Words like "betraying my marital vows," and "struggling to deal with who I am" punctuated what must have been an incredibly painful and humiliating moment in what should have been a shining time in his relatively young political life.

I have no problem with the fact that Governor McGreevey has discovered his true sexual orientation. I don't think his acknowledgment should lead directly to his resignation, either. I see no reason why a gay man cannot serve as an effective state chief executive.

My problem is with Governor McGreevey using his announcement as a cover for his criminally corrupt practices as governor. He hired his gay lover to serve as his chief homeland security advisor, in a position for which the man was clearly not qualified. He kept him on the state payroll long past the point it could be dismissed as short sighted.

Governor McGreevey is a crook, and that fact is considerably more important than his sexual orientation. The fact that he came out of the closet in a high profile announcement gives him no cover for the ugly and embarrassing details that are now beginning to trickle out.

He ran as a reformer, promising New Jersey voters a change in the corrupt and underhanded administration of arguably America's most corrupt state. I remember watching a C-Span gubernatorial debate (yep, I even watch other state's political events). He was passionate, eloquent, and convincing in his promise to re-make New Jersey politics and state governance.

Unfortunately, he was a liar. His two-year tenure has been marked by controversy, including indictments of his underlings for bribery and fraud. Governor McGreevey's name is sprinkled throughout these indictments, appearing some 80 times in one.

Shame on James McGreevey for letting down all those voters who counted on him for change. Shame on him for betraying his loved ones. But most of all, heaps of shame and scorn on Governor McGreevey for trying to use his sexuality as a way to avoid the truth about his criminally negligent behavior.

He should not be allowed to leave on his terms. New Jersey voters deserve to make a choice for a new governor, and that choice should be made in November. Governor McGreevey should end New Jersey's shame by slinking away now, not allowing yet another manipulation by choosing his own replacement after the November 2004 election.

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