August 31, 2007

The Roundup: Stalling your flight, and other bad puns

By: John Tabin

Forget for the moment that Sen. Larry Craig, who has long been dogged by rumors of homosexuality (or bisexuality, if you prefer), was probably prowling a public restroom for an anonymous sexual encounter earlier this summer.

Likewise forget that he isn’t actually guilty of breaking any laws — that by any reasonable definition, the foot-tapping and hand-signaling that he’s accused of does not constitute the “disorderly conduct” that he pled guilty to.

Remember only this: When taken into police custody, Craig presented a business card identifying himself as a U.S. Senator and asked, “What do you think about that?”

His attempt to leverage his power into special treatment by intimidating a policeman is reason enough to conclude that Craig ought not have such power anymore. Unfortunately, among elected officials, this behavior is far more common, and far less likely to be career-ending, than cruising men’s rooms.

If you’re a union boss, how do you handle the Democratic primary? John Sweeney, president of the AFL-CIO, has announced that his organization is unlikely to endorse anyone. No candidate is likely to reach the two-thirds supermajority support among union members that current rules require for an endorsement. That’s convenient for the AFL-CIO, as it means they won’t risk souring their relationship with the nominee with an endorsement of a rival.

But AFL-CIO affiliates are free to make endorsements. The United Transportation Union endorsed Hillary Clinton this week — a relatively safe move, as Sen. Clinton is the most likely winner of the nomination. Endorsing Barack Obama or John Edwards could anger the Clinton machine and diminish a union’s influence on the next administration, assuming Hillary wins. The same dynamic, of course, works in reverse if she loses.

The International Association of Fire Fighters has come up with an innovative way to solve this problem without sitting on the sidelines. This week they endorsed Sen. Chris Dodd, who languishes in the low single digits in every poll, both nationally and in early primary states. As Dodd is no threat to Clinton, Obama, or Edwards, none of them are likely to hold the IAFF’s support of Dodd against them. And since Dodd will almost certainly drop out soon after the caucuses and primaries get started, the IAFF will be able to pick a candidate once it becomes clear who has the momentum.

The rationale for Dodd’s quixotic campaign has always been a little murky. What exactly is this guy doing in the race? Now we know: He’s a placeholder.

We all know that Mike Huckabee is a bit of a health nut; he famously lost 110 pounds a few years back and wrote a best-selling diet book. We also know that his views on healthy living extend beyond the private sphere. As Jeremy Lott put it in his review of Huckabee’s campaign book,

Mr. Huckabee’s approach to health care is to declare war on ill health, which he takes to be caused by fat, sugar, salt and sloth. As with seatbelts, drunk driving and cigarettes, he advocates that the government and civic society should first work to change attitudes toward these things and then “having shifted public opinion, we can solidify the attitude and atmospheric changes with government actions to statutorily define the will of the majority.”

This week Huckabee endorsed a nationwide federal ban on smoking in all public places. Just in case you were wondering what Huckabee means by “government actions to statutorily define the will of the majority,” that is what it means: Federal officers handing out tickets for smoking on every street in the country.

John Tabin is columnist for Brainwash.