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Clueless Newsmakers of the Week

 

Frankly, there are quite a few but two that stand out; that make you wonder if they exist in the same universe as the rest of us.  Clueless Wonder awards this week to Texas Republican Congressman, Joe Barton and Washington Redskins defensive lineman, Albert Haynesworth.

 Joe Barton

In the most conspicuous act of political suicide in ages, Congressman Barton, in prepared remarks at the House committee hearing that featured BP CEO, Tony Heyward, yesterday, infamously apologized to the oil giant for having been forced to set up a $20 billion “Slush Fund” by President Obama.

Let’s turn to the Washington Post’s Dana Milbank to give us a play-by-play of Thursday’s bizarre act of political self-destruction:

 “I’m ashamed of what happened in the White House yesterday,” the Texan said of BP’s offer, under pressure from President Obama, to set aside $20 billion to pay damages to Gulf Coast residents ruined by the oil spill. “I think it is a tragedy of the first proportion that a private corporation can be subjected to what I would characterize as a shakedown.”

Heads of the other committee members spun, cartoon-like, in the direction of Barton. Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) froze, her coffee cup suspended equidistant between tabletop and lips. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), the panel chairman, scrunched his face and shook his head as though he had just witnessed a bloody wreck.

In a sense, he had. And Barton wasn’t done. The $20 billion BP would pay to those who are now out of work because of the spill is a “slush fund,” he said. Then he did the unthinkable: He apologized to the man whose company is destroying a large piece of the nation. “I apologize,” he said, adding that he doesn’t “want to live in a country” that does such things to poor BP.

There, in front of the cameras, one of the most senior Republicans in the House had suffered an acute attack of Obama Derangement Syndrome. The president had just secured from a British oil company a promise to set aside $20 billion to help devastated Americans — and Barton had sided with the firm that has devastated the Gulf of Mexico.

Turns out Rep. Barton has received more campaign contributions from the oil industry than any other member of the House.  A more loyal friend could not be found.   The man was so clueless about what had just happened that during the lunch recess, as he was on his way to meet with outraged leaders of his own party, he was approached by a reporter who asked if he had any comment to calls for his immediate ouster as the ranking Republican on the energy committee.  From Politico.com:

He said calls for his ouster were “news to me” as he went to meet with Boehner and Cantor. Asked whether he planned to stay in his job, he replied, “Damn straight.”

In the next few minutes he was handed an ultimatum.  Apologize for your apology to BP or you will be stripped of your ranking status on the committee by the end of the afternoon.  

 It is truly remarkable that in about one short 3-minute period, the White House that had looked so feckless and helpless in the oil spill fiasco, that itself, had been so tin-eared and clueless at the outset of one of the worst ecological disasters in American history had been handed such a gift- a Republican villain in the BP Spill story.

Albert Haynesworth

 For those of you who don’t know about this creep, Albert Haynesworth is the highest paid defensive lineman in the NFL, brought in by the Washington Redskins last year and apparently told by owner, Daniel Snyder that he’d be allowed to play the position any way he wanted to.  Fast forward a year and there’s a new coach in town who wants Albert to play a different position as part of what’s called a 3-4 defense.  

He demanded to be traded. He refused to attend voluntary training sessions. The Skins tried to dump his sorry ass but apparently no other team wanted to swallow his bloated salary or a $20 million bonus that was due to him in the Spring.    Coach Mike Shanahan made it clear- if we can’t trade you and you take this $20 million bucks, we expect you to play whatever position we decide. 

He took the money and then refused to show up to mandatory training sessions and this week, reiterated his intent to leave Washington and play elsewhere.

His teammates have turned against him, calling him selfish. The fans, of course, loath him.   He has burned every bridge he had in Washington and now possibly, across the NFL.  And if the Redskins can’t get rid of him, he will remain a cancer on the team for the entire season.

Cut him.  Swallow the losses and cut him.  Let the millions of dollars in losses burn a great big hole in Dan Snyder’s pockets as a lesson to not be such a chump about bringing in high-priced free-agent divas.

Darwinian Theory

It’s called the law of natural selection.  Only the best of a species survive.  Each of this week’s recipients of the Clueless Newsmaker of the Week award has shown their unique talent for self-destruction.  While interesting to watch in the uncomfortable way a gruesome car accident is impossible to ignore, it will be better for the world when these two gentlemen finally succumb to their inevitable fate and become a mere footnote in history.

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