Wednesday, May 10, 2006

action Jackson

Is there a cabinet-level department in this government that is not attached to some scandal or other? (Seriously, I’m asking. . . tell me!)

Tuesday saw HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson do the Texas two-step right into a pile of his own steaming bullshit. Perhaps you’ve heard about his very detailed “hypothetical story” about yanking a government contract given to a minority-owned business because the owner expressed his dislike of President Bush.

Why should I reward someone who doesn't like the president, so they can use funds to try to campaign against the president? Logic says they don't get the contract. That's the way I believe.

Those were Jackson’s words to the Real Estate Executive Council, but a spokeswoman for the secretary, who initially said it was a real story, now says Jackson was just making an “anecdotal” point.

Were you lying the first time, or are you lying now?

Either way, here is a really interesting point raised by one of Josh Marshall’s readers over at TPM:

Why on earth would a contractor bidding for a contract come out and say 'I do not support your President'.

There is only one circumstance I can think of where that reply would come up in a sales call - IF THE CEO WAS ASKED FOR A CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTION.

I certainly would never bring up politics with any customer unless I knew what their politics were in advance and that they were compatible.

The politics issue has to have come from Jackson.

That is why he is making this peculiar statement, what he is really doing here is repeating his internalized self-justification for demanding a bribe and being rebuffed.

Or, as Marshall puts it:

Maybe the whole conversation Jackson recounted was a fictive one, meant to communicate a message without being literally true. Speech-making gives some license for that sort of thing, I suppose.

But why would anyone volunteer such a statement unprompted? Hopefully, a government contractor who didn't support President Bush wouldn't reduce him or herself to kowtowing. But if you're a businessman working hard for a government contract, would you bring up your opposition to the president, unprompted, to one of his chief appointees, when the whole topic isn't even appropriate to discuss?

I think Jackson was recounting a real conversation (that's the way I believe)--after all, he wasn’t chosen for this job because of his stunning intellect--but I do think that this last point was probably part of the initial back-and-forth between the secretary and the contractor. One can only hope that this contractor is not content with only one side of the story being in the media stream, and that he comes forward to tell us his version. . . . Or, can it be too long before a handful of dedicated reporters and/or thousands of bloggers with too much time on their hands figure out who this contractor is and just ask, “Did Jackson ask for a little action?”


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