Sunday, June 19, 2005

Picking Up Our Marbles and Going Home

Strange things happen to those ordinary twerps who wrangle their way into the House of Representatives.  They spend thirty years or so in that august companionship, get to be chairman of this or that utterly meaningless committee and begin to believe they are no longer ordinary twerps. 


Henry Hyde, Chicago’s off-the-wall representative in the House of Similar Idiots (a.k.a. House of Representatives) has come up with another of his stem-winding solutions to the problems of the world.  Hyde, you may remember, is the stalwart defender of the public who single handedly insisted on the impeachment of Bill Clinton and then was roundly embarrassed by the dearth of impeachable evidence.  Thankfully, this aged crank is retiring, but not before leaving his name on yet another piece of landmark legislation The Henry J. Hyde United Nations Reform Act.


HenryhydeI include his photograph, which looks like he was posing for a sculptor, possibly the same one who didn’t sculpt Dan Rostenkowski, another Chicago stalwart.


This Hyde with no Jekyll-side, chairman of the House International Relations Committee, introduced and passed a bill cutting U.S. dues to the United Nations in half. Talk about a positive influence on international relations, Hyde is spearheading what he calls ‘radical surgery’ in an effort to steamroller the U.N. into reforms.  He has a list and, like Santa, he’s checkin’ it twice.  Jesse Helms used to play Hyde’s part in this passionate play and one can only speculate on who will take up the cudgel when the last of these old farts retires.


Congress cannot set dues at the U.N.  the only thing Congress can do is withhold money (as Helms did for a decade), force the United States into arrears and put the ball in the U.N’s court as to whether or not they are thrown out.  That, of course, won’t happen.  It didn’t happen under Helms and it won’t happen even if Hyde’s study in hubris passes the Senate, which isn’t likely either. Traditionally, the Senate is the branch that calms down the wilder instincts of the House, smoothing its fur, scratching its chin and merely sighing at the likes of Tom DeLay.


It’s a platform, this ignorant bill, from which Hyde can bray like a donkey.  Every charge that he levels at the United Nations (and many of them are absolutely correct) is true as well of the United States Congress (in particular, his own H of R);


  • Paternalism

  • Unpopularity within America

  • The wasting of billions of dollars

  • Unconstrained bureaucracy

  • Cushy member-missions to exotic climes (always near a golf club)

  • Family members on the payroll

It would be an elegant thing if funding of the House and Senate were halved until they made similar reforms.  Comically, Hyde's legislation calls for an ethics office to uncover conflicts of interest at the same moment in history the House has succeeded in crippling its own ethics office.   


Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the Bush administration, already stung over the opposition to it’s choice of John Bolton as ambassador to the U.N., must deal with this further embarrassment coming from its party base in the congress.  Who could even guess what the climate is at the U.N.?  No doubt they are all aquiver over the double-whammy of Bolton and Hyde.


Which, of course, is the point.


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