- Welcome to town, Hank!
Thanks to Congressman Joel Hefley, local Republicans have snagged Henry Hyde as the featured speaker at their annual Lincoln Day Dinner this Saturday, March 3.
Exactly why local Republican leaders would be so pleased about getting the 75-year-old Illinois congressman to come here and be the honored guest for anything is truly a mystery, when you take a close look at the guy.
Hyde is the power broker who portrays himself as the moral leader of America. The chairman of the powerful House Judiciary Committee, he was one of the most vocal supporters of throwing Bill Clinton out of office because of the president's affair with Monica Lewinsky and his subsequent lying about it.
But then -- oops! -- news about Hyde's own reputation as a womanizer, including an eight-year adulterous relationship with a businesswoman, began to leak out. After Salon magazine detailed what many came to view as the ultimate hypocrisy in a 1998 story, Hyde would only acknowledge that he suffered from "youthful indiscretions."
Disturbed by her former paramour's zealousness in the Clinton impeachment, Cherie Hancock noted that Hyde was 37 years old when their affair began; 45 years old when it ended (Hardly "youthful" and hardly "discretion," she noted).
In a 1999 book about Hyde, Henry Hyde's Moral Universe: Where More Than Time and Space are Warped, journalists Dennis Bernstein and Leslie Kean detail many other aspects of the congressman's various crusades:
Hyde, a former board member of a failed Savings and Loan that was sued for negligence, used his power to evade responsibility in a $17 million federal lawsuit.
He sponsored the Hyde Amendment, which denies federal abortion funding, and has led to the death and injury of women who have resorted to back-alley abortions.
At the same time, he has sponsored crime legislation to speed up executing death row prisoners (the governor of his home state recently halted the practice after eight men waiting to be killed were found innocent). Hyde's own bill has resulted in the execution of at least one innocent individual.
After the S&L and his extramarital affair scandals broke, Hyde attempted to intimidate private individuals from blowing the whistle, even threatening to call in the FBI.
Hyde helped undermine the Contra drug investigation, thereby allowing traffickers to flood the U.S. market with tons of cocaine.
After Oliver North lied to congress under oath, Hyde leapt to his defense, cautioning against "sermonizing about how terrible lying is, when a principle is at stake; it just seems to me too simplistic."
"I don't hate him. I hate what he wants to do to the people of the United States," Hancock was quoted saying about her former lover. "I hate the dark murky side of him where he wants people to live as he sees fit."
Whew. Sounds like a real man of Lincoln.
The Presidential primaries are due to hit Colorado next Friday, but that will be little more than a blip compared to what's already been happening in states with more political clout.
And the pundits have been having more fun than usual. "W" (that's pronounced "dubya"), has done a great job selling his message of how much he adores the right-wing nuts in his party. And in doing so, Shrub has burned through about $4 million a week.
The Washington Post detailed some of the awesome costs of the Bush campaign last week: $147,307 spent on Federal Express deliveries; $88,111 for parking; $377,000 for sound and lighting at events; and $475,811 for rent. But is it excessive? No way, reported an unidentified aide.
Meanwhile, Nation columnist Eric Alterman pointed out last week that, while John McCain's "Straight Talk Express" may not roll over Bush, it already has run over and killed the myth of the liberal news media -- which can't get enough of their man.
"In view of claims that the political press corps is leftist and ideology-driven, it's telling that journalists have shown such sympathy for a candidate who is conservative on almost every issue...
[McCain] votes consistently anti-choice on abortion and against gun control measures like the Brady Bill and the assault-weapons ban. He opposes a minimum-wage hike. Last year, the League of Conservation Voters ranked McCain's environmental voting record at 11 percent, up from zero in 1998."