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Saturday, July 29, 2006

Gasbag Politics

In a last-ditch effort to make Dave Reichert seem somehow relevant, the Republican campaign spin machine moved in to give him his first semi-meaningful bill since he entered congress.

In the account, Dave Reichert had virtually complete command of the facts and twisted arms in the effort to push through his first major piece of legislation last week. In fact, that should read Dave Reichert had virtually complete command of his arms and twisted facts in his account of a very minor piece of legislation last week.

When HR 5852 becomes law, one more bureaucrat will be hired into the Department of Homeland Security, no doubt the son of a Republican fundraiser. Otherwise the federal action will be another study. The most significant thing it did was to withhold federal money unless the states jump through another hoop. The 21st Century Emergency Communications Act was more notable for its gasbag prose than its influence on anything of substance.

I know, when you hear grandiosity like the 21st Century Emergency Communications Act you grab for your wallet, like the states did last week for the Business Activity Simplification Act, which would have made life much less simple in some states, like ours, and easier only for the interstate corporations allowed to skate on their taxes. But Dave had an even better title for the bill on his website: The Reichert Emergency Communications Bill.

In fact, the bill was co-written by the ranking Democrat and basically scripted in four hearings the committee held. He is referred to as "Freshman Chairman" Reichert, although his chairmanship is of a minor subcommittee whose name is longer than its significance.

The website presentation gets points for nerve, like when the Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security is quoted as saying "This bill will help save lives ... Without [Reichert] this important piece of legislation would not have been possible." Right. And this finger is holding up the moon. The bill passed the House 414-2, proving both that Dave was not needed and that the bill itself was politically insignificant.

Still, Reichert now gets to use active verbs, like "establishes" a position, "requires" an assessment, "facilitates" meetings, "elevates" importance (a very good example). Dave's previously authored bills ran to getting obscure truck parts into the country without tariffs, I believe, and did not require the gasbag ghost writers or even public notice. His previous press releases had to be satisfied with "touts," "congratulates," "applauds," and occasionally, I suppose, though I don't remember seeing it, "deplores." Not nearly on the level of "elevates."