Mourning In America

A New York Democrat on politics, journalism, and the Mets

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Thursday, August 12, 2004
Triple Witching? Jeez, MIA goes on vacation for a few days and New York's legislature passes a budget, President Bush endorses, then immediately retracts his support for a national sales tax, and New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey resigns. Maybe I can convince the NYC newspapers that big news happens when I'm away, and that it's in their interest to pay for me to be on vacation full-time.

Haven't caught up on the NYS situation, so I'll comment on that later, but on Bush's sales-tax flirtation: I'm not sure what's worse -- that he means it, but wasn't supposed to talk publicly about it during the campaign, or that he doesn't have a blooming clue about a fairly fundamental public-policy issue. Either way, it's a shame he backed away -- GOP support a national sales-tax could finally give the Democrats a taxation issue of their own. I envision a stump speech something like this:

No one likes paying taxes, but at least April 15th only comes once a year. Now, Bush and his rich friends want to stop paying taxes on their big incomes and tax you every time you go to Wal-Mart.
The Bush administration is already resented by liberals for co-opting the Children's Defense Fund's slogan, Leave No Child Behind, for its "No Child Left Behind" education reform package. If the sales-tax flirtation goes forward, he might steal a slogan from the environmental movement: "Make it Tax Day Every Day."

As for McGreevey, I don't have any idea where to begin. My reaction to this announcement is very much like my reaction to Bill Clnton's admission of an affair with Monica Lewinsky: By indulging a personal weakness in the affair, he let his party down, and with it a lot of talented people who worked in his administration for the good of the people of New Jersey. On the bright side, he owned up to the mistake, resigned, and gives the party the chance to regroup.

But I'm still left with one theological question: Since it was McGreevey's position as a Catholic elected official who did not endorse curbs on access to abortion that prompted him to stop receiving communion, does his resignation clear him to return to the altar rail?