Last week House Speaker Denny Hastert made headlines for suggesting that we bulldoze most of New Orleans rather than spending money to rebuild it. Hastert, of course, has steered a great deal of pork to his own district in Illinois, but apparently wanted to take a 'hard line' on the budget. Which he has, incidentally in past years on New Orleans flood control and planning (of course, this year, Speaker Hastert and his Congress shaved another twenty million off beyond what the President had already cut in his budget.)
So now, according to today's Arizona Republic, Bill Clinton said what many people probably thought when they heard Hastert's latest idiocy. When Hastert's remarks were described to him at a forum in Syracuse, New York, Clinton said that it was lucky that he was not present when Hastert made the remark, or 'I'm afraid I would have assaulted him.'
Of course, Clinton has a reputation, well earned, for keeping his temper in check and not blurting out half baked responses, so he was obviously angry to have said this. Clinton, as I alluded to in the last post, worked with other world leaders to organize a quick and successful relief effort in a very similar situation in Mozambique in March of 2000, and he has done a remarkable job of holding his tongue watching the fumbling, painfully slow and foot dragging response by the Bush administration. It has now been almost a week, and finally people in the city are getting real relief (although people in places like Plaquemines and St. Bernard are still waiting.) But I guess Denny's comment was just too much, as it would have been for anyone with a shred of decency.
As for Hastert, according to the Republic article, he is starting to make amends. Well, sort of. He missed the house vote on authorizing $10.5 billion in initial flood relief. That is because he was in Indiana attending a colleague's fund-raiser, staff members said.
Well, at least we know where Denny's priorities are.
One does have to wonder at the very least about the judgement of the Republicans in Congress, to have elected a pair of clowns like Denny Hastert and Tom DeLay to their top two leadership positions.