Everything was going great until you showed up. You see me across the crowded room, make your way over, and start talking at me. And you don’t stop.
You are a Democrat, an outspoken atheist, and a foodie. You like to say “Science!” in a weird, self-congratulatory way. You wear jeans during the day, and fancy jeans at night. You listen to music featuring wispy lady vocals and electronic bloop-bloops.
You really like coffee, except for Starbucks, which is the worst. No wait—Coke is the worst! Unless it’s Mexican Coke, in which case it’s the best.
Pixar. Kitty cats. Uniqlo. Bourbon. Steel-cut oats. Comic books. Obama. Fancy burgers.
You listen to the same five podcasts and read the same seven blogs as all your pals. You stay up late on Twitter making hashtagged jokes about the event that everyone has decided will be the event about which everyone jokes today. You love to send withering @ messages to people like Rush Limbaugh—of course, those notes are not meant for their ostensible recipients, but for your friends, who will chuckle and retweet your savage wit.
You are boring. So, so boring.
Don’t take it too hard. We’re all boring. At best, we’re recovering bores. Each day offers a hundred ways for us to bore the crap out of the folks with whom we live, work, and drink. And on the internet, you’re able to bore thousands of people at once.
The 20 billion fund should be viewed as a huge accomplishment for Obama. He had no actual power to compel that aside from moral suasion and the threat of having an unhappy president. Legally, BP could have just waited for the lawsuits and drawn the whole thing out for years. As a lawyer, I find it a unique and mind-boggling accomplishment.
It reminds me a little of something that happened during the Hurrican Rita evacuation. It was going too slowly and endangering the evacuees. Houston Mayor Bill White got on the phone to the Texas Department of Highways. He said, “make all the lanes of I.H. 45 one way north for the first hundred miles from the coast—the southbound traffic can find another route.” He had no power to order that. But the officials just complied. He acted like a man in charge.
So, Obama comes along, says “set up a 20 billion fund, have an independent administrator in charge, and start paying damages.” He had no power to order that. But BP said, “yes, sir.” And it was done.
We shouldn’t be nitpicking the particulars of it.
So I’ve been thinking a little more about whether an Obama quid pro quo job offer to Joe Sestak would actually be illegal. The law, quoted above, seems pretty vague to me. When it speaks of using “official authority,” that might mean something like sending agents to intimidate a candidate, or sends out the guard to prevent voters from voting. Does offering a job fit? Some people think it clearly does. But I’ve done some searches of case law and can’t find anything that would support the application of the statute to the facts as alleged by, however vaguely, by Sestak. Moreover, when you’re talking about putting people in jail, I think you’ve got to construe the law very narrowly. No one should go to jail because the law is vague.
So I’ve clearly thrown the word “illegal” (and even worse, “impeachable”) around too hastily. And perhaps that’s because the press has too eagerly characterized it as illegal too.
That said, we generally don’t want our President hiring people in exchange for political favors … we want him to hire based upon merit. Ludicrous expectation?—perhaps. But if he’s going to give tax-payer funded salaries to people who do him a solid, we ought to at least know about it. This administration promised transparency … and it isn’t delivering, not even close. This isn’t a good basis for impeachment, but it’s a good reason not to vote for the man in 2012.
If you want to level the charge that a quid pro quo offer was unethical but perhaps not illegal, that’s a legitimate argument. But the idea that a congressman (and former Vice Admiral) would not be “a hire based on merit” is pretty weak tea, even by your standards. Transparent offer or not, Joe Sestak’s not a hack and would have done just fine in any administrative position. Indeed, this is a guy who got canned by the Navy for trying to rein in military spending. Independent minds like Sestak are exactly what the Executive Branch needs, infested as it is with careerist yes-folk and a Sun King mentality.