Saturday, April 29, 2006

Dennis Hastert Brings His Act to Nebraska

by Kyle Michaelis

None other than the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Republican Dennis Hastert of Illinois - the man next in line for the presidency should Dick Cheney ever shoot George W. Bush on a hunting trip - made a fundraising appearance in Lincoln Friday on behalf of Tom Osborne's campaign for governor.

The Lincoln Journal-Star reports:
House Speaker Dennis Hastert heaped praise Friday on Tom Osborne, suggesting Nebraskans have an opportunity to elect a governor who already has represented their interests with “a great performance” in the Congress.

In reviewing the 3rd District congressman’s record at a Lincoln news conference, Hastert zeroed in on Osborne’s leadership in acquiring federal drought assistance for Nebraska and other agricultural states.....

[T]he Speaker said, Osborne is “a man of integrity, a quality person who looks you in the eye and tells you what he thinks (and) he’s accustomed to making tough decisions under fire.”

Besides saying a few more nice things about Osborne and taking a bit of a swipe at the round-about way Dave Heineman became governor, Hastert also notably delivered the old Republican song and dance warning that, if Democrats take back the House this November, it will be “back to a big spending Congress.”

Back to a big spending Congress? BACK? Just who is this guy kidding? Under Republican leadership, the federal budget has been totally out of whack for years, running up record defecits without even counting the hundreds of billions of dollars that have been spent in Iraq and in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

The idea that Democrats could possibly be more fiscally reckless than the out-of-control and generally corrupt bunch that are currently at the helm is just plain ludicrous - and Hastert's a fool or a liar for saying anything otherwise, no matter how desperate he is to hold onto his gavel.

Probably most pathetic is that Osborne vowed to Hastert that he would return to Washington D.C. next week if his vote was needed on "ethics reform." His vote may be needed, but it won't be for anything resembling true reform. It's clear Hastert & Co. only want to push through some feel-good, watered-down, do-nothing legislation to quiet critics of the Republican influence-peddling that has been exposed in recent months.

You'd think the Abramoff scandal, Duke Cunningham's conviction, and Tom DeLay's downfall would be enough to force some real change, but nope. It looks like it's still going to take voters to deliver a wake-up call this November that the American people are fed-up and expect better.

So, my advice to Osborne: save yourself the trip. It's not worth the frequent flyer miles.

Back to Hastert's visit, I'm surprised the Journal-Star article makes no mention that he was a high school wrestling coach. Frankly, it would have seemed like a natural angle to play-up that Hastert's own coaching experience should make him appreciate not only Osborne's amazing success on the field but also the character and passion that made it possible.

Sure, it would have been trite, but at least it would have had some personal touch. Who knows, maybe some such remarks were made and they just weren't reported. I wouldn't know since I wasn't invited to the $100 per plate breakfast. And, alas, it's not custom to offer Nebraska bloggers a press pass.

Not yet, at any rate.


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