Thursday, May 06, 2010
It is a bit ironic that longtime U.S. Representative David Obey announced his retirement from elected office yesterday. Last night Karl Rove spoke to an audience about his new book and told some interesting behind the scenes stories from the Bush presidency years. One particularly compelling story was that of the day of 9/11/01.
Part of the story involved those who were on board Air Force One as it tried to bring its passengers back to Washington. He spoke of the professionalism of the Secret Service agents and of the unknown - not knowing when another attack or attempt on the life of the president would come. The reporters covering the trip - originally a trip to Florida and a classroom visit as the president was working on No Child Left Behind legislation - were tense, as was everyone. One noted reporter who completely lost control of his emotions as the jet landed safely in Washington is now the chief of staff for Vice President Biden. Rove never mentioned the man by name.
One of the questions asked of Rove by an audience member was what advice he would give to a young person considering a life in politics. Rove said the person should finish school, get a degree, and then go on about his/her life. The person should find what it is that he/she wants to do in life. Be active in the community. Volunteer and work for local candidates. Then, if the opportunity arises, and politics is still a passion, then run for office. Someone planning a life in elected office is in for disappointment. To plan to run in a specific year or to attain elected office at a specific age is not a path to happiness. And, it is important to live where you are happy.
Rove pointed to the fact he was once in favor of term limits but now is not so strident. However, for politicians to stay and make it a life's total body of work is not a good thing. The case of Rep Obey is a prime example.
Obey has served 21 terms representing a district in western Wisconsin. For forty years he has been an ardent cheerleader for every liberal spending project that came down the pike. His district is mostly a conservative one but he is Obey remains thanks to union support and a large war chest. He faces tough re-election prospects this time from a young (age 38) conservative known for his stint on a reality television show. Obey claims he was ready to retire back in 2001 but was angered by an 'arrogant' President George W. Bush. He claims Bush would not bow to the spending projects Obey wanted to put on the legislative agenda. So, Obey decided to stay for the eight Bush administration years. What a stupid claim to make.
From The Washington Times:
Mr. Obey said he would have retired eight years ago but for an encounter with Mr. Bush at the White House that so infuriated him that he vowed to outlast the president.
The congressman said the top Democrats and Republicans on the House and Senate appropriations committees met with White House officials after Sept. 11, 2001, to present a list of areas that needed more funding. The president dropped in on the meeting and, according to Mr. Obey, rejected the list, saying he'd already figured out how much the country would spend.
"If I hadn't experienced that meeting and experienced the absolute stubbornness of the Bush administration on that occasion, I would have left this place a long time ago," he said.
Obey has succumbed to a common illness on Capitol Hill - an insufferable ego and inflated sense of importance. That is the result of all those decades of 'public service'. It is way past time for him to go and live off the handsome retirement package he'll receive for his decades of 'public service'. And the irony is lost on him that the current administration makes the Bush administration look like complete appeasers. The Obama administration and the Democratic leadership on The Hill do not even try to disguise their utter contempt for the minority party and do not include them in any legislation negotiations. Is there any wonder that the atmosphere is so poisonous? Obey has had a heavy hand in it all.