The hippopotamous and the pea
With Congress out of town for a week, it gives the nation a chance to lick our wounds before having to endure the next round of damaging blows to the body politic.
I have tried hard to maintain a polite apathy in the face of the more recent congressional and White House episodes of their opera bouffe. But short of having my hands tied to my chair so as to stop me from typing, I rather fear that my more feral political instincts must be given a little room to run.
Watching Speaker Denny Hastert attempt to defend Congress' separate powers, I was reminded of H.G. Wells' criticism of Henry James' writings. He likened it to "a hippopotamus in a room resolved at any cost upon picking up a pea."
Was the assertion of a remarkably weak legal point (the burden of legal opinion weighs against the speaker's legal judgment) really worth the vast and conspicuous political damage?
As a former wrestling coach, Mr. Hastert surely understands how the application of kinetic energy at a key fulcrum point can move a larger mass with a smaller intruding mass.
In a perverse inversion of this principle he has taken the massive, unalloyed Democratic embarrassment of Rep. William Jefferson (considering everything, it is impossible not to mentally finish with the syllables "Clinton") keeping $90,000 of bribes in his freezer, and by the application of just a few words by the speaker push it out of the public mind.
In its place Congress has now elevated to high visibility the apparent new Republican constitutional principle of the right of a crooked congressman to be secure in his person, papers and effects — even from reasonable searches supported by a warrant issued on probable cause.