Friday, July 25, 2008

Washington Post hits a triple

It’s a rare day that I agree with even one Washington Post editorial, but when I agree with three of them, all published on one day, either I forgot to take my meds or Washington's company town newspaper is coming to its senses.

The first of the three, “Structurally Unsound,” bemoans the “costs and contradictions” of a housing market rescue bill that includes “a mishmash of policies whose ultimate impact would be far from certain.” When a piece of legislation has The Post worried about potentially unforeseen costs and consequences, it's time to go back to the drawing board.

In the second editorial, "Trigger Happy on the Hill," the Post argues, quite correctly, that it's not Congress's job to impose a new gun law on Washington, D.C., in the wake of a recent Supreme Court decision that tossed out the capital city's firearms law, which was among the nation's most restrictive (and which I happily ignored when I lived there).

I thought I was reading The Washington Times editorial page when the Post declared: "Once again, lawmakers are willing to impose on the District something they wouldn't contemplate for their home districts. Local officials -- not Congress -- are the best arbiters of their community's needs and priorities. What makes sense for Fort Wayne, Ind., doesn't necessarily translate to the streets of Washington, D.C."

Local officials are equipped to make decisions for themselves? One size doesn't fit all? What rascals snuck into the Post's editorial offices and hijacked their word processors? And where would Washington and The Washington Post be if Congress actually applied this sort of thinking across the board?

Local officials in D.C. will undoubtedly screw up in re-writing the city's new gun law. Early indications are, they'll throw up as many hurdles to handgun ownership and registration as they can, mired as they are in the failed gun control mindset. They'll do the bare minimum required to stay on the right side of the Second Amendment. It may take more lawsuits, and more court rulings, to restore full gun rights to D.C. residents. This is the district, after all. The fruit doesn't fall far from the tree.

But the district, even if it is a federal enclave, should have the opportunity to work these matters out without Congressional meddling, just as states should have more power to chart their own courses without Uncle Sam looking over their shoulders. If mistakes and lousy laws get made in the process, those closest to the local officials hopefully will let them know about it, and course corrections will be made. That's how the federal system, as conceived by the founders, is supposed to work. And it's not as if Congress never makes mistakes or cranks out lousy laws. It happens habitually.

The third remarkably right-on editorial, "No Drilling, No Vote," chides House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for using procedural maneuvers to prevent members from voting on whether or not to lift the offshore drilling bans Congress has long maintained. If such a vote were in the offing, The Post would no doubt repeat the usual mantra about how we can't drill our way to energy independence, blah, blah, blah. But in another principled stand, it argues that Democrats are doing the country a disservice, and resorting to the same Machiavellian tactics they decried when Republicans were in charge, my using procedural tricks to dodge a debate they might lose.

Other important congressional business had come to a halt, the editorial points out, for fear that pro-drilling Republicans will use almost any opportunity to force a vote on what they see as a winning wedge issue for them. "If drilling opponents really have the better of this argument," asks the Post, "why are they so worried about letting it come to a vote?"

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