linkpost, politics, USA

Doldrums and Departures

Rove, Snow, Gonzales, Craig: gone?Late August in Washington is about as busy as a western ghost town. That’s certainly an overstatement, but excluding all the departures, very little has been going on.

And the departures, as you’ve probably noticed, are numerous. First, Karl Rove announced that he was leaving. Then, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales announced that he too would leave. At this point, it seemed like little more than the administration removing it’s most prominent dead weight. Neither man was popular in the country or with the Democrats in Congress, and so they were asked to go.

Whether these departures were meant to clear the administration from continued criticism or to signal the desire for a new way forward is an interesting question. One has to hope it’s a sign that the administration–which still has over a year in office–will stop invoking executive privilege and instead try to improve the now troubled economy, reform the Farm Bill, and possibly help to improve No Child Left Behind. Whether or not that is truly happening is something we’ll only know with time.

The other two departures announced in recent weeks, however are less explainable. Tony Snow, and to much greater attention, the possibly-not-leaving-now Senator Larry Craig have both announced an intent to leave Washington.

Tony Snow’s departure has gotten relatively little coverage, but some that it has is quite interesting. Mr. Snow, the White House spokesman who is battling cancer, has signified that he has to leave because he’s not making enough money. At a salary of $168,000 annually, that raised more the a few eyebrows. The most prominent of those were at Salon.com, where the magazine asks “Why is Tony Snow’s 401(k) empty?

The question David Gross encourages us to think about is this: how did a member of this administration, which is so keen on abandoning the current Social Security structure and ending defined benefit pensions in favor of 401(k)s, fail to contribute to his 401(k) during his tenure with FOX? It’s an interesting question, and Gross’s answer makes for an interesting weapon in the battle for greater government-provided social benefits.

Senator Larry Craig’s intent to depart has gotten the great deal of attention. Both because he is now waffling on it, and because it seems based on strange circumstances.

Regardless of what did happen in the Minneapolis men’s room, Sandip Roy at Salon.com reminds us that it was not sexual intercourse of any kind. In his defense of Larry Craig, Mr. Roy says a few odd and unconventional thing–like that the hand jive that Mr. Craig preformed in the bathroom is akin to going out to a singles bar. But despite this, he mounts an interesting a troubling contention that Mr. Craig’s resignation has more to do with homophobia than real wrong-doing. After all, Senator David Vitter all but admitted to cheating on his wife, yet is still in office. More interesting still, Mr. Roy argues that gay rights advocates shouldn’t be so quick to rejoice in the face of Senator Craig apparent ouster.

Two interesting articles, both worthy of attention. And yes, this is what you get when I have nothing to say.

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