Do We Deserve This?

By Jeffrey Page

Was Tocqueville prescient when he observed that in a democracy, the people get the government they deserve? Or should we drop the $20 words and just acknowledge that he was right and we are stuck with some political adventurers?

Recently there’s been a clump of stories that make me wonder about the safety of this American experiment in democracy because some politicians are getting away with all kinds of mischief while the electorate seems content to stand aside and watch.

In Staten Island and Brooklyn, Rep. Michael Grimm is seeking his third term in the House while he stands charged in a 20-count federal indictment involving his use of undocumented foreign workers at a restaurant he owns.

Clearly, Grimm must think the voters are a bunch of dolts when he assured them that if he is re-elected on Nov. 4, and later convicted on the immigration charges, he would do the right thing and resign from the House.

The problem with Grimm’s sacrifice is he forgot to mention that he wouldn’t have much to say about resigning because the House of Representatives is not in the habit of seating convicted criminals.

Yet despite his legal troubles, indications are that Grimm’s race against a Democratic challenger is very close. If there have been calls in the district for Grimm to step down or take a leave of absence until his case is resolved, I haven’t seen them.

Right, Grimm hasn’t been convicted of anything. But an indictment isn’t exactly an invitation to afternoon tea; it’s the studied conclusions of prosecutors and investigators.

Thus the recurring question: Are the people of the 11th Congressional District getting the government they deserve?

–Mayor Bill de Blasio has been embarrassed by the fact that the woman who serves as his wife’s chief of staff is involved with a man who has dropped the chief’s name several times when stopped for traffic violations.

The mayor says he’s had enough questions about this and will answer no more.

But there’s the question of why Chirlane McCray – she’s the mayor’s wife – has a staff at all. She holds no official position yet her chief of staff, Rachel Noerdlinger, is on the payroll for $170,000.

Have there been any protests over Noerdlinger’s salary or about the mayor’s high-handed dismissal of questions.

See recurring question above.

–Faced with continued criticism about his handling the appearance of Ebola in the United States, President Obama took the bull by the horns and appointed someone to the position that’s been labeled “Ebola czar.”

That czar – an unfortunate word when you think about it – is Ron Klain, who’s now in charge of coordinating the Administration’s efforts to finally get a grip on this insidious outbreak.

Is Klain a physician specializing in infectious diseases? Does he hold advanced degrees in public health? Is he a research scientist who’s been working on Ebola for years?

The answers are No, No, and No.

In fact Klain’s most recent position in government was as chief of staff to Vice President Biden. The Times reported recently that one of Klain’s major tasks with Biden was to prepare him for the Vice Presidential debates of 2008.

What Klain lacks in science, he makes up for in political savvy. Anybody complaining about a pol handling the Ebola response? I don’t think so.

See recurring question above.

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