Burn, baby, burn

The Olympics, zipper-gate, stimulus money, and why Coakley must investigate City Hall
By EDITORIAL  |  October 7, 2009

0910_edit_main

The Phoenix opposed President Barack Obama's efforts to help Chicago win the 2016 Summer Olympics on the grounds that doing business with the International Olympic Committee is always bad news for the host community. With that in mind, we breathed a sigh of relief last week when the city was eliminated in the first round of voting.

Still, the loss of the games to Rio de Janeiro was hardly the stuff of celebration, especially for petty political reasons.

Apparently William Kristol, editor of Rupert Murdoch's American Standard, disagrees. Joined by scores of Republican Party luminaries, he gleefully watched as Obama's public appeal fell short.

It seems that any American failure is now a cause for rejoicing in that crowd, provided it can be traced back to Obama. What's next for these self-described patriots? Flag burning to protest the president's next initiative?

Right-wingers these days have become unhinged. Under Bush, America could do no wrong; now, the nation can do no right.

In spirit, the Kristols of the world are coming to resemble the SDS-style campus radicals that Republican Presidents Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan made a career of attacking.

File this episode under, "The Irony of American History."

Zipper-gate
Late-night television host David Letterman has the nation yukking with send-ups of his confessed infidelity. Letterman frankly admits that his wife, Regina Lasko, "has been horribly hurt." Not good times.

Of legitimate public interest, however, are the marital tribulations of Republican Senator John Ensign of Nevada. In June, Ensign confessed to an affair with Cynthia Hampton, a mid-level campaign aide married to Doug Hampton, who was then a senior Senate aide for Ensign.

The Hamptons sought nearly $8.5 million in what could be considered hush money to repair the damage of the fling with the senator, who — until his zipper-gate moment — was mentioned as a Republican presidential hopeful.

Even more disturbing, the New York Times reports that Republican senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma — an Ensign friend and fellow conservative Christian who previously served with him in the House of Representatives — acted as a middleman to help Hampton reach a more reasonable financial settlement. (Further gilding this rococo drama: as a member of the House, Ensign voted to impeach President Bill Clinton on charges stemming from Clinton's Oval Office interludes with Monica Lewinsky.)

The Times reports that, once Hampton left Ensign's staff, the senator intervened with corporate backers and steered lobbying business Hampton's way. That this is an apparent violation of Senate rules is certainly troubling, as is Hampton's seeming failure to register as a lobbyist.

If Ensign does not resign, the Senate Ethics Committee should conduct a full investigation. In the meantime, best of luck to Dave and the Mrs.

Patrick stimulates
Governor Deval Patrick deserves credit for resisting congressional pressure to spend federal-stimulus millions on make-work projects, instead earmarking the money for economy-enhancing infrastructure, such as Somerville's Assembly Square redevelopment. Still, a word of caution: the nearly half-billion dollars in use-it-or-lose-it funds for transportation projects must be put out for bid by March 2010. It is vital the governor ensure that not a cent goes untapped.

AG Coakley must investigate
One would have to be a moron not to conclude that the administration of Boston Mayor Thomas Menino is talking out of both sides of its mouth.

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