Hastert puts the Hippo in Hypocrisy


Appalling Katrina Comments Par for the Course

Once was a day when the man wielding the gavel in the People’s House was expected to be a towering figure. A natural born leader capable of goading the 434 other members of the House of Representatives to rise above petty and partisan inclinations to make America a better place for one and all.

Men like Clay, Rayburn, Longworth, and O’Neill will long be remembered for their statesmanship and stature. Hell, even Newt Gingrich had gravitas and sufficient smarts to write a book or two.

Today the job is more important than ever. With a president that cannot grasp any issue too complex to fit on a bumper sticker and the demon Majority Leader Tom DeLay busy stealing anything that’s not nailed down, the job is admittedly, “hard work.”

But we live in the days of lowered expectations and the Speaker seems hell-bent on lowering them still. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Dennis Hastert, former wrestling coach, insensitive hypocritical fool and Speaker of the United States House of Representatives.

Hastert’s comments about razing New Orleans even as babies were starving and old folks’ corpses were being kicked to the corner in the FEMA-forsaken city demonstrate the depravity that’s running amok in GOP-controlled Washington and deserve a closer analysis.

Hastert told Arlington, Illinois’ The Daily Herald that “It looks like a lot of that place could be bulldozed,” and that rebuilding the town just “didn’t make sense.”

The comments set off a firestorm that even the normally tone-deaf Hastert realized were not helpful, especially at a time when local officials couldn’t get a return phone call from the Fed and America’s TV screens were filled with images usually emanating from the Third World.

So he did what any oafish politician would. He directed an aide to open the can of cliches and put a “clarification” on his Web site (the difference between a clarification and apology is the absence of the words “I’m sorry” and placing the blame on the media for recklessly putting a microphone in your face.)

Because it is a Muse’s duty to look beyond the pap and in between the bullshit, I dug deeper. In this case, it involved fearlessly clicking on the link for a press release a couple of slots down the menu from his “Katrina clarification.”

And guess what? It’s a press release taking credit for getting 93 Illinois counties declared disaster areas! Just four weeks earlier, the SOB is gushing about bailing out “Illinois farmers and ranchers struggling due to the drought,” but when po’ black folk in New Orleans are drowning in the rain Illinois didn’t get, he recommends a bulldozer.

In fact, it’s been a very good summer for federal largess if you happen to live in Denny’s district. Did you know that the outrageously earmarked highway bill passed by congress was actually signed in a ceremony in his district? So brazen was the pork barreling that while signing the document Bush turned to Hastert and teased him about inserting $207 million for a “prairie highway” in his district and added, “when I saw that I thought it was for Texas.”

Maybe that’s the answer for getting help for New Orleans. All we need to do is put it in Denny’s district. The GOP are masters of the gerrymander, they ought to be able to engineer a New Orleans-for-Oswego swap quicker than you can say “category five.”

I’m sorry Mr. Speaker, but your clarification is still pretty murky in my eyes. America deserves better than you.

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