Letters + Opinion » The Town Dandy

Love Song of the 1st District



Word broke last week that several high Congressional muckety-mucks have pressed President-elect Barack Obama to name our own representative, Mike Thompson, as the next Secretary of the Interior. The nominators include Bay Area lawmakers Anna Eshoo and George "The Enforcer" Miller, both loyal lieutenants of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. If appointed, Thompson would succeed Idaho nonentity Dirk Kempthorne. (Who?)

It makes a certain amount of sense, especially from the Klamath point of view. The Interior Department is all about managing the nation's land and resources. Thompson gets kumbaya points for bringing together ranchers, fishermen, Native Americans and environmentalists to sign off on a common plan for managing that fraught river, despite some prominent defections from the latter two camps. And though he has solid enviro ratings, he has no problem making nice with conservatives. He has been known to slay helpless wild creatures with the best of them. He's got a patch of grapes at his place in Napa Valley, so he technically is a farmer, too.

The president-elect isn't unfamiliar with Thompson. They coauthored some Iraq legislation, among other things. Of course, Thompson came out strong for Hillary Clinton early on. Then again, so did Hillary Clinton. It doesn't seem to have hurt her. So what's the downside? Thompson has little to zero executive experience, and the O needs some practiced bureaucratic sword-wielders. Presiding over the work of Congressional Wine Caucus is hardly sufficient, despite that group's immense popularity in the halls of Capitol Hill.

Thompson's office issued a brief statement saying that he was honored to be nominated, and etc., etc., but that he has not been contacted by Obama's team. That position was reaffirmed Monday. And indeed, the conventional wisdom seems to be turning toward Thompson's House-mate, Arizona Representative Raúl Grijalva. Among his other qualifications -- which, like Thompson's, are many and varied -- Rep. Grijalva hopped on the O-train way before it was fashionable to do so.

But choose carefully, Mr. President-elect! When undertaking your vetting process, pay some attention to the candidate's soul. What good is it to fill your cabinet with big-brained wonkbots if those bots are too wonky to feel -- to really feel? As evidence of our candidate's rarefied sensibility, we offer this excerpt from his website:

"From the Napa marshes of San Pablo Bay to the mountains of Mendocino National Forest, from the roaring Pacific to shimmering Clear Lake, the terrain is rarely less than wondrous," writes Congressman Thompson (or his staff). "In the springtime, wildflowers explode with color in the hills and valleys. In summer, the vines grow full with vibrant green leaves and sweet clusters of grapes. In the fall, the hills and trees are truly majestic. And, even the winter is a misty and mysteriously wonderful time to visit."

Note the northern border of this magnificence. Conveniently passing over that hellhole they call Humboldt County, eh? Never mind. Anyone who can find the poetry in Clear Lake, a 43,000-acre open-air septic tank, deserves extra credit. Frankly, Mr. Obama, you'd be a fool to pass up a chance to put this Whitmanesque pen to work in service of our nation. A fool!

Add a comment