Jenkins

This may explain everything

Staff WriterApril 1, 2010 

And all the time, we thought the Republicans failed to stop the Big Evil, communistic health care reform, because the Demon-crats were up to shenanigans, probably putting stuff in municipal water supplies, maybe hypnotizing people with special signals sent through Wolf Blitzer's beard, doing their best to muster the secret forces of their Left Wing Conspiracy Brigade to suppress the will of the people. (Note to Sarah Palin: This theory is copyrighted and you cannot use it in your Fox News commentary.)

That's what we thought. But it turns out that the key to explaining why the solid congressional Republican opposition to improving ... er, socializing ... health care didn't get the job done may well be something entirely different. Basically, it seems that some of the GOP ground forces, the younger ones counted upon to drum up tea partiers and really get the grass roots growing, were acting like, well, Democrats.

According to a financial report of the Republican National Committee, nearly $2,000 was spent last month on a gathering at a Hollywood nightclub known for topless dancers. Uh, oh. That's never good when concentration on an important political issue is at stake. But apparently there are Republicans who are as comfortable with pulling up a chair at a hoochie-coochie show and cheering on women with names such as Starlight, Galaxy and Cleopatra (hypothetical stereotypes) as they are chasing that ol' party boy Bill Clinton through the Rose Garden with pitchforks.

Naturally, even before the Associated Press reported the story, Republican officials were saying the guy who put in for reimbursement was going to pay the money back, and some guy connected to the thing has been fired, etc. And RNC officials were shocked, shocked, they said, at this clearly inappropriate behavior.

(But that's not the only shock. Some of these expenses apparently were classified as meals. Your correspondent has not been in a hoochie-coochie show in a quarter century, but from what I recall the only food available was found in a barrel-sized jar of pickled eggs.)

The point, however, may be that if this is part of a pattern, if the GOP strategists and the like were partying down in a nudie nightclub, it's no wonder their party lost the health-care reform fight. It's hard enough to concentrate on expense tables and cost overruns in Medicaid and bashing those bleeding-heart Democrats and following the directions of the minority leaders without trying to do so while "My Sharona" is blaring in the background.

But this is not the only interesting aspect of the RNC's expenses. More than $17,000 was spent in February on private planes, and another $13,000 for car services. And in 2009, the Committee spent over $144,000 on rooms at the Four Seasons Resort in Jackson Hole, Wyo. The Committee spent $18,361 in the last few months at a Washington store called the "Tiny Jewel Box." And it did over $13,000 at Dylan's Candy Bar in New York City.

Michael Steele, the RNC chairman, caught some heat earlier, the AP reported, because the redecoration of his office ran about $18,000.

Now I'll grant you, when I send off my always-generous contribution to the RNC this year I might note that I do not want it to go for expenses at nightclubs featuring the art of the undress, but the other expenditures are entirely understandable, just as criticism of them by whiny-baby Democrats is predictable. This is the Republican Party, after all, and not a bunch of rag-tag Democrats selling themselves as the party of ordinary people.

Is Michael Steele supposed to greet people and have them sit on a couch that might be upholstered in polyester, for goodness sakes? Some Republicans might be allergic to unnatural fibers. You have to have private planes and car services. Commercial planes and cabs allow just anyone to ride.

And Jackson Hole, for example, is in former Vice President Dick Cheney's home state, and one doesn't want to greet the former veep in a place that doesn't even have monogrammed bathrobes or a Cartier store. What if he asked for Evian and all they had was tap water? The blood chills at the prospect.

Deputy editorial page editor Jim Jenkins can be reached at 919-829-4513 or at jjenkins@newsobserver.com

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