Reading Congressman Rick Crawford's most recent column was upsetting, but not for the reason most would think.
Reading Congressman Rick Crawford’s most recent column was upsetting, but not for the reason most would think.
Crawford is a congressman in the 1st District of eastern Arkansas and a Republican. It should be enough to identify him as a congressman and let the party affiliation slide, but it’s important in the case being made.
Crawford spent his weekly column, sent to newspapers as a way for constituents to keep up with what’s going on in their federal government, on the General Services Administration’s misuse of taxpayer money. That part was OK, but then he blames Democrats — specifically the president — for the misdeeds.
Aren’t all of our elected officials in Washington part of the system that is too-often corrupt? Aren’t they all part of the establishment of big government, regardless of party affiliation? Shouldn’t they be able to do something about it collectively?
Here are the good points Crawford made on the GSA conference in Las Vegas:
— The overall cost was a whopping $822,000.
— The expenses included such extravagances as $44-per-person breakfasts for attendees.
— There was a $30,000 pool party.
— Included in the tab was a 2,400-square-foot suite for $2,000.
Nobody could possibly argue in favor of those kinds of taxpayer-funded expenditures, much as nobody could argue that a Secret Service advance team in Colombia should have been cavorting with prostitutes while on a government-paid trip. That’s common sense.
To make a case that waste or abuse of power or position is the fault of one party or the other (or the face of that party) is not the answer to improving the system and it simply is not accurate.
The biggest problem in Washington is not whether Democrats or Republicans control this or that, but whether they can work together for the common good. The answer right now is a big, fat “no.”
To make matters worse, a Democrat or Republican can’t win by campaigning that he or she wants to negotiate with the other party and make decisions based on what is best for the country (state, county or city). And, even if by happenstance someone is elected after such a campaign, it’s unlikely they will follow through. There are exceptions, of course.
For the most part, honest-to-goodness middle ground has disappeared.
Here are a few strictly political sentences from the Crawford column: “The Obama administration has tried to sweep this issue under the rug and diminish its seriousness. It took the Obama administration eleven months to take action. To add insult to injury, the chief organizer of the 2010 Las Vegas GSA Conference was approved for a bonus by senior Obama officials for his work in organizing the conference.”
Those problems are not Obama problems; they are government-culture problems. Crawford, who will face a Democrat in November in a reconstituted 1st District, is spending taxpayer money to run against Obama. That’s not an $822,000 mistake, but it’s wrong. His column should be informational, not political.
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Dennis A. Byrd is chief of the Arkansas News Bureau. His e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org