And You Wonder Why D.C. Earns Our Disdain?

(CBS/AP)
As the new year approaches, the old year remains kind to armchair bloviators eager for examples of Washington politicians talking out of both sides of their mouths. So a special shout-out to Senator Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), whose legislative grandstanding around the nation's air security is in a class of its own, especially after the attempted Christmas bombing of a U.S.-bound airliner.

As Politico's Ben Smith notes, DeMint has a hold on President Obama's selection of Erroll Southers to head the Transportation Security Administration. Why freeze the nomination? It'd be easy to understand if DeMint feared Southers to be the second coming of Michael Brown, a candidate put forward largely on the strengh of his political resume. But Southers, who runs security at Los Angeles International Airport, actually holds the necessary qualifications to run TSA.

What's going on is more of the partisan bloodsport that defines Washington politics. DeMint, who once hoped to turn health care insurance reform into President Obama's "Waterloo," wants to turn the nomination into a referendum over the unionization of security screeners.

"It's very simple. Giving union bosses control over security at our nation's airports is dangerous and will harm our ability to respond to serious threats," DeMint said last month. "If President Obama's nominee will not commit to putting homeland security above the whims of union bosses, it should give everyone serious concern."

Union bosses? Some nitwit just tried to blow an American airliner out of the sky and DeMint is having a cow over the second coming of George Meany?

It gets better (or worse, depending on your holiday mood.) Smith points out that the GOP has voted against the TSA funding measure which would have covered explosives detection equipment. You know, the kind of stuff that terrorists might try to smuggle aboard a flight in order to commit mass murder. All of which makes the statement sent to Politico by DeMint's flak all the more precious. To wit:

"Democrats have only themselves to blame for not having a confirmed TSA administrator. President Obama waited 243 days in office before making a nomination and Harry Reid has been too busy trading earmarks for votes on health care to schedule debate on the nominee. This is an important debate because many Americans don't want someone running the TSA who stands ready to give union bosses the power to veto or delay future security measures at our airports."

Classic.
  • Charles Cooper On Twitter»

    Charles Cooper is an executive editor at CNET News. He has covered technology and business for more than 25 years, working at CBSNews.com, the Associated Press, Computer & Software News, Computer Shopper, PC Week, and ZDNet. E-mail Charlie.

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