Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Bennett: I want to be the political hack

As a poly sci professor in college argued persuasively to me, Senators compete against the other home state senator for niches*. One tends to be the "bacon" senator, the other the "statesman" or "lawmaker." Some divvy up issues: Barbara Boxer get the environment while Feinstein gets abortion. For the longest time, Orin Hatch was the lawmaker, drafting bills with the likes of Ted Kennedy on cigarette taxes (towards children's health care), while Bennett was Utah's own "Senator Pothole" touting every nickel he got for the beehive state.

But lately, Bennett is encroaching on Hatch's other domain: political hack. Orin likes to ask compliments or softballs during his "questioning" of Republican officials--be they Appointees for the judiciary (see Anita Hill hearings through ScAlito) or executive appointees (see this month's Gonzales hearings). He also likes to go on talk shows or other media outlets and make the most disingenuous arguments in favor of whatever conservatives want to be true be it that Hillary and Bill killed Vince Foster or that Obama is a radical Muslim (not that he made either arguments, but ones like them). Now, Bennett is trying to be his own mini-hack:
The Democratic takeover in Congress, Bennett said, has put in jeopardy some funding for the state, including for agriculture-related programs at Utah State University and for scholarships at the University of Utah.
The decision by the new Congress to continue spending at current levels, the state's junior senator said, "means that new initiatives will disappear ... quite frankly there will be some problems in the state of Utah as a result of that."

I am sure this bogus stuff has nothing to do with the fact that the former Utah Republican Party Chairman is their editor in chief, nothing.

But to the meat of his contentions. Democrats (and many Republicans) in the House voted to lower college student loans (Utah's House Republicans voted no, claiming it hurt loans paid off during college, which no one does). If the USU programs are valid ones and not Iowa rain forest studies or $300 million bridges from one hamlet to another in Alaska, then I am sure it will be included in appropriations. Democrats will be cutting GOP pork, not projects in GOP districts just because they are presented by republicans. Oh and who's fault is it that funding is frozen at its current levels? Why the Republican controlled 109th congress who failed to pass 11 of the 13 appropriations bills last year and then passed a CR (continuing resolution) during the lame duck session. It is like the guy who ditched you when the bill came at the nice restaurant and then complaining to others that you didn't order appetizers.

* Wendy Schiller, "Sharing the Same Home Turf: How Senators from the Same State Compete for Geographic Electoral Support." 2002. In U.S. Senate Exceptionalism, ed. Bruce Oppenheimer, Ohio State University Press.

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