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Me? I’m Not Corrupt, I’m Just Incompetent

This is a refrain we’re all familiar with. It’s the old standby for politicians and corporate executives when they’re caught doing some really shady shit.

Angelo Mozilo (the former CEO of Countrywide Financial) played it when he was charged with massive mortgage fraud. He didn’t know that Countrywide locations across the country (oh the irony) were cranking out “liar loans” in high volumes. He didn’t know, he was just incompetent!

We heard Ron Paul proclaim his incompetence when we found out that newsletters bearing his name were really fucking racist. He naturally had no idea what the people he hired to write and edit the newsletters were doing. He was just totally incompetent and yet, wanted your vote for president because incompetence shouldn’t disqualify someone from holding the highest office in the land (or something). And some people did vote for him because the racism wasn’t real, and the self professed incompetence wasn’t an issue for them.

There are dozens of examples I can give but these two come to mind, and you get the point. In both of these cases, all you had to do was look at who benefited from these “oopsies”. Ron Paul got himself out of 3/4 of a million dollars worth of debt with those newsletters, and Mozilo got really fucking rich.

But you shouldn’t even have to go that far. Common sense should tell you that the “incompetence” defense is a load of crap. But for some reason, it’s still used all the time.

The latest inductee in the hall of incompetents is Chris Christie. He decided to proclaim his incompetence after derisively dismissing his little “oopsie” as being nothing to talk about. When asked about it, he originally mockingly said, “I worked the cones actually, Matt. Unbeknownst to everybody, I was actually the guy out there. I was in overalls and a hat….you’re really not serious with that question”. When his office was directly tied to the unnecessary bridge closure yesterday, he decided to go with a classic; I’m incompetent. The new statement is;

What I’ve seen today for the first time is unacceptable. I am outraged and deeply saddened to learn that not only was I misled by a member of my staff, but this completely inappropriate and unsanctioned conduct was made without my knowledge.

Translation; I’m just not competent, and I have no control over my own administration.

I don’t know why people think this is a good defense. I don’t know why anyone would say or write Chris Christie’s name ever again, without actively using the word “incompetent”. We should take him at his word, right? If you’re going to tell me you’re incompetent, who am I not to believe you?

But for some inexplicable reason, that’s not what we do in America. We let people get away with the incompetent defense. Ron Paul got away with it, Angelo Mozilo got away with it, and everyone else who has ever invoked “incompetence” has gotten away with it.

This has to stop. Incompetence is not a defense. Regardless of whether facts emerge that tie Chris Christie directly to this reckless and craven bridge closure, he should be driven out of office. He told us he’s incompetent. We should believe him. We need to stop letting people get away with this crap. You want to plead incompetence, fine. But you don’t get to keep governing the eleventh largest state in the country. The people of New Jersey deserve competent leadership. If that’s not you, get the fuck out. I’m fed up with the “I’m stupid” defense, and you should be too.


Motivating The Base

This will be a short and sweet post on my analysis of Mitt Romney’s pick of Paul Ryan to be his VP running mate. The one sentence version is that I think that Mitt is trying to motivate “the base”, which he knows he doesn’t have. I believe that he has some internal polling that shows that a significant chunk of the base isn’t excited, and might not show up.

Why do I think this? Because Mitt Romney just kissed off most independents (and Catholic nuns). A moderate pick like Rob Portman, Tim Pawlenty, or even (yikes!) Chris Christie would have been a play for independents. A play that he would have made, if the base was already locked up.

Presidential nominees always make VP picks based on that that potential VP can bring to the electoral map. VPs are picked to fill the holes left by the nominee on that map. Paul Ryan is not going to turn Wisconsin red in November. So what’s the hole that Romney hopes Ryan will fill? It’s the base. Specifically, the base in Virginia and Ohio where Romney is losing badly.

This VP pick isn’t one that tells me that Romney is coming from a position of strength. It tells me that he’s trying to lock up voters that any other republican nominee would have locked up by now.