22 June 2005

Hyena Swarm

In what is arguably the most important government department, We have yet to confirm a Secretary. Dr. Gloria Baquero withdrew from the nomination process as Secretary of Education prior to what was expected to be a non-confirmation vote in the Senate.

Although everything involved in political processes must be taken with ample quantities of salt, several comments stand out:

*** Dr. Baquero stated that she was asked for "political favors," to which she declined, prompting Senate President Kenneth McClintock's reply that "These persons need to understand the system, adapt to the system and work within the system." The implications seem to be that Dr. Baquero's refusal to "play politics" is a bad thing and that no less a "leader" than the Senate President agrees that, indeed, it is a bad thing (although he disagreed with Dr. Baquero's "opinion." Only a politician would call a fact an opinion.)

*** Dr. Baquero sharply criticized the lack of leadership mettle of Governor Aníbal Acevedo Vilá. Like pointing out that the Sun rises in the East, the comment barely evinced a reaction, possibly nothing more than a heavy sigh from partisans and foes. Partisans sigh because, well, Acevedo is...flabby...in the leadership area. And foes sigh because, well, flabby is just no fun to push around. Flabby leadership is never a solution, but Acevedo's next big step is attending a biotech conference in Philadelphia, delaying any decision on an Education Secretary until he returns. No Plan B for what was obviously a hung nomination? Flabby. And stupid.

*** Senator María de Lourdes Santiago pointed out that her colleagues were miffed at Dr. Baquero for naming school principals without consulting mayors. (Okay, I'll bite: what rational reason could there be for this "consultation" that doesn't involve political favoritism? I'll give anyone who wants to invent an answer a decade to come up with one.) In addition, Santiago said her colleagues were "offended" when Dr. Baquero, after a Senator's repeated questions about rats in only one school, retorted that "she didn't know she needed an exterminator's license to be Secretary of Education." Chalk up one for the nominee.

Dr. Gloria Baquero may have been the right person for the job, or the wrong one. Without a doubt, she was worthy of the Governor's full support, for he selected her. Backing off from her nomination as the Senators in his own party balked at her "independence of thought" sent a clear message: I am weak, I don't stand by my decisions, I can't make a difference.

To say that this "political process" works well is either naivety or outright denial of reality. If this were the plains of Africa, a nominee could be as dense as a musk ox or as noble as a lion, but with enough hyenas slashing at the flanks, both can be consumed. The lesson is: the hyenas win because they are savage, brutish and swarm in cowardly numbers. Can anyone actually believe that the "hyena swarm" is a benefit and boon to the democratic process? That it empowers the citizens rather than merely preserving the power structure of the hyenas?

The Jenius does not advocate blindly accepting any nominee and placing him or her in power. We already have evidence that that process doesn't work: it's called the elections. What The Jenius advocates is leadership, which is tantamount to saying that The Jenius wants world peace, free oil and the starting shortstop position on the World Champion Pittsburgh Pirates. Leadership is not an accident: it is the end result of a process that must be chosen. Unless We expect--and demand--leadership, not political leadership, but real leadership, We are going to see nothing come of the vapid, malodorous sound and fury that is Our current "political process."

The Jenius Has Spoken.

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