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May 5, 2006
Patrick Kennedy and Cynthia McKinney
In politics, timing is everything. From my perspective, Patrick Kennedy's timing could not be better. We are in for a treat as the mid—term elections loom in half a year. The GOP's opportunity has arrived.
Cynthia McKinney's reaction to the obvious and blatant favoritism enjoyed by Patrick Kennedy is likely to be something to savor. She is already on the record about the indignities she received at the hand of a white cop. But now she sees that for the white boy, supervisors stepped in, relieving the officers at the scene and driving the staggering Kennedy home.
She faces potential legal jeopardy, and now a rich white boy walks away without so much as a breathalyzer test from circumstances that would ordinarily demand a drunk driving investigation. At least one cop reportedly says he smelled alcohol.
There are reports that a complain has been filed with the union over the supervisors coming in. Supposedly, the Capitol Police have a bit of a generation gap between the older supervisory ranks, accustomed to treating Congress like royalty, and the post 9/11 recruits, many of them ex—military, who see their job as protecting the Capitol from serious terror threats and who see the rules applying to all.
Kennedy has a history of trouble:
Never known for self—control or thoughtfulness, Representative McKinney is going to have a hard time keeping her mouth shut.
She could denounce favoritism, of course. But she is asking for favoritism herself, so that won't work out too well. Even McKinney can see this.
So she will demand 'equal treatment' — meaning equal immunity from the laws which govern the rest of us.
But that argument raises awkward questions for the rest of the United States Congress. We are going into an election, with opponents of either party ready to remind the voters that Congressman X has lost touch with the ordinary folks back home. One would expect a flurry of statements from members of Congress affirming the need elected representatives to live by the same laws as the rest of us.
But to affirm this would then lead the demand that Congress hold hearings on the Capitol Police's handling of the Kennedy incident. That is a demand that no Congressman wants to heed. They enjoy the special treatment, the outright coddling, they receive from the Capitol Police, as much as you and I would. And the Capitol Police, whose budget is passed by Congress, are happy to oblige.
But we are in the midst of a really serious election, much—hyped by the Democrats as a chance to turn over control of Congress. Nothing concentrates the Congressional mind so wonderfully as the prospect of losing majorities and maybe one's own seat. The GOP, on the receiving end of a campaign against its own corruption, can perform political jiu—jitsu and turn the issue against the Democrats, with well—timed hearings on the Capitol Police and its treatment of members.
If they don't, they are going to hear from me and my friends. The GOP base is already angry about a number of issues. The last thing a GOP—controlled Congress ought to do is stand for the principle of immunity from the demands they impose on the rest of us. They will hear this from the grass roots, right as they head home more often as campaigners.
Who will be the first member of Congress to stand—up and demand hearings on the Capitol Police's treatment of members of Congress?
Thomas Lifson 5 05 06