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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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Copyright © 2002 Express Publishing Inc.
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 

For the week of October 2 - 8, 2002

Opinion Column

Kempthorne’s 11th hour political theater

Commentary by PAT MURPHY

Gov. Dirk Kempthorne’s camp has dreamed up this 11th hour campaign beauty: a 48-member commission to report in two months (!) on how state government can be managed better.

Although Kempthorne advisers hope voters will dutifully swallow this stunt as a warm and fuzzy act of generosity in participatory democracy, clearly it’s unabashed political theater.

The paramount question is obvious: after being in office for almost four years, why’s Kempthorne deciding a month before the November election that he needs outside help?

The governor unfortunately suggests that he, the pros in executive departments and legislators are dolts who need ideas of a hastily formed advisory commission to remedy four years of mistakes.

The gimmick is embarrassingly unoriginal. It’s a virtual knockoff of President Bush’s economic summit in Waco, Texas, in August when 300 participants were allotted just a half-day to give him advice on the economy, which since has worsened.

As Business Week magazine reporter Lorraine Woellert wrote of Bush’s summit, "If the session was short on innovation and new ideas, that's perhaps because it was meant to be. The forum succeeded in its real goals–giving Bush a spotlight and a friendly backdrop during a week that included more bad news about the economy."

Maybe that’s Gov. Kempthorne’s hope for his quickie task force–putting the spotlight on him and away from bad news about Idaho’s government.

Only in U.S. politics would a man of Democratic U.S. Sen. Robert Torricelli’s appalling corruption receive the maudlin sendoff of a hero after withdrawing from his re-election because of his intolerable betrayal of his office.

At a press conference, Torricelli showered himself with self-praise for public service. New Jersey’s Democratic Gov. James E. McGreevey added to the sleazy spectacle with tributes, ignoring that Torricelli lied and lied about his dishonesty before ’fessing up.

Torricelli even had the gall to whine, "When have we become such an unforgiving people?"–as if he’s surprised by public scorn and falling fortunes since his Senate rebuke for illegally accepting thousands of dollars from a supporter, businessman David Chang, who’s in prison while Torricelli blubbers about giving up his senate seat.

For those disgusted with venality throughout U.S. society, Torricelli is good riddance, little better than the grafter, former Democratic Congressman James Traficant, serving eight years for racketeering, bribery and tax evasion.

Torricelli should share a cell with Traficant.

Here’s another politician unworthy of public trust.

Colorado Democrat Rep. Tom Tancredo, a second termer in Congress, rode into office on a one theme–term limits. He led Colorado’s term limits movement, denouncing career politicians and promising to serve only two terms.

But Tancredo has abandoned his pledge: he insists he’s too valuable in Washington and will run for a third term.

A chagrined U.S. Term Limits spokesperson said, "We expected Tom to keep his word."

My, my. How naïve.

If Yugoslav dictator Slobodan Milosevic is on trial for genocide, why isn’t Iraq's Saddam Hussein?

Indisputably, Saddam is guilty of far more murders of his own people than Milosevic; of warring on other nations (Iran and Kuwait); building an arsenal of hideous weapons; skimming billions for his own use while Iraqi children starve and snubbing United Nations resolutions.

War crimes charges against Saddam would isolate him as an international leper and warn his generals their end is near.

This might ultimately lead to his abduction for trial, such as Milosevic, and avoid another war.

Is anyone considering this less expensive alternative to war?



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