Sunday, April 03, 2005

Shut 'em down

Sen. Trent Lott, who you may recall lost his Senate leadership position because of his belated endorsement of the 1948 presidential candidacy of segregationist Strom Thurmond, was outmaneuvered by the White House in his bid to politicize the closings of military bases:

Just before Congress returned from a two-week recess, President Bush on Friday night used his recess-appointment power to thwart an effort by Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) to stall the work of a military base-closing commission. ...

The process is aimed at taking some of the political heat out of base-closing decisions. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld is due to make his recommendations for closings and consolidations by May 16. Then the commission will evaluate them and submit a final package for up-or-down approval by Bush and then Congress.

Lott has said he objected to having decisions about base closings made by what he called an "exclusive, closed and unelected commission" instead of letting it remain the province of Congress. As a senior lawmaker, he said he would be in a better position to protect shipyards at Pascagoula and elsewhere along Mississippi's Gulf Coast.

Lott wrote Jan. 30 in his weekly column, published on his Web site, that he would rather see bases close in "an increasingly unsupportive Western Europe" than "in patriotic, taxpaying towns in Mississippi."

"I'm more worried about the plight of folks in Heidelberg, Mississippi, than Heidelberg, Germany," Lott wrote. "Base closure is not really an initiative for high-rent lobbyists and fleeting commissions to perform. Congress and the people we represent should participate in the debate and carry out the hard work of base closure."

Oh, I see. U.S. military bases don't exist to secure out national defense, but to secure jobs in the home states of politically powerful (well, formerly powerful) senators. It seems to me that Lott has just demonstrated, perhaps unwittingly, why such decisions are taken out of the hands of elected officials.


Blogger fester said...

I agree with everything that you are saying, but for the last sentence as I am quibbling with the characterization that Lott has lost significant power. He is still the #3 man in the Senate GOP totem pole. He has power coming out of the Wazoo.

9:11 AM

Blogger Jonathan Potts said...

It was a deliberate exaggeration. It's a bit embarrassing for him, I would think, to get the door slammed in your face like that by the White House.

10:11 AM


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