In a political crisis, common sense lies in a ditch by the side of the road...
What is going on in the world of government officials and their ability or inability to communicate with each other? I know for me personally, I have a land-line telephone, a cellphone and molasses-in-January dial-up to send an e-mail and I can pretty much reach someone or be reached by someone at any time. I can speak and type in full sentences, read without moving my lips, and my ears work perfectly well. So when I do have to communicate something important or receive communication, I'm usually able to get all the pertinent information out or in.
Let's say, for the sake of argument, that I went hunting with my Aunt Verna, and -- oh, I don't know -- accidentally shot her in the face. You can bet I'd get Aunt Verna to the hospital immediately and then while I was waiting around all that time in the E.R. I would call Uncle Ed and tell him all the horrible details. You can also bet that within four or five hours, every cousin in the family would know. Even cousin Lenny, who is sort of the family spokesperson and unofficial disseminator of tragic information would know -- long before the next morning -- that cousin Janet was, indeed, the shooter. All of this accurate information disseminated, by the way, without the benefit of a Blackberry or a cadre of employees who follow me everywhere I go.
Now -- let's just say as a different example that I am on a road trip of some kind in -- oh, um western Kansas. And I get a call (cousin Lenny, naturally) telling me that Aunt Verna has been arrested. What? Arrested?! Good God, Lenny, give me every detail! Now, what I'd probably do is get back home ASAP, probably by driving a few hours to the nearest airport and taking a ridiculously expensive flight -- maybe more than $800. I probably wouldn't get there until the next day, but the way I'd see it, if anybody needed to talk to me urgently about it, there's always that cellphone in my pocket.
So, you see what I'm getting at. Common sense is the hubcap that flies off the wheel of a fast-moving political crisis. In his most recent column, Paul Greenberg puts it in plain language: "Dick Cheney would look a lot better by now, or at least like a guy who had nothing to hide, if he'd just gone ahead and told everybody what had happened as soon as he'd attended to his friend."
Meanwhile, in Chesterfield County, some of my and my neighbors' tax dollars -- $18,000+ in all -- were used to fly County Administrator Lane Ramsey home on a charter flight from Kansas to Richmond within five hours of learning that Supervisor Ed Barber had been arrested. Ramsey is quoted in the Times-Dispatch today as saying, "...we had just had our board chairman arrested and had no idea what was going on, and I needed to get back to the county." I simply don't understand in the age we live in, how it is ever possible to have no idea what is going on. I can understand that you may not have all the facts, but your distance from the goings-on isn't what keeps you out of the loop. I am sure that Ramsey could have been privy to as much information as any of Barber's fellow supervisors. It's called a phone, people and guess what? They even have them on airplanes these days! Isn't that a hoot?
So basically what we've got is government officials moving too slowly or moving too quickly but either way ignoring the sound of that hubcap clattering and spinning to the ground.