Brian Birdnow

Last week Dan Thomasson, an Op-Ed columnist for McClatchy-Tribune news service, a former Vice-President of Scripps Howard Newspapers, a former columnist at the Washington Times, and a general decorated veteran of print journalism published a long column which was syndicated in many major daily papers. The column, entitled, Shortage of Functioning Brain Cells in Washington, is posed as a veteran newsman’s unvarnished look at the sorry political scene in the nation’s capital today. Mr. Thomasson laments the fact that the “bad week’” experienced by President Obama and House Speaker Boehner is, in his opinion, “…symbolic of the broken Beltway.” Most unbiased observers would agree, at least to a point, with that statement. Very few Americans would argue that our system functions perfectly. A closer look at Thomasson’s column, however, shows that he is actually toeing the liberal-mainstream media line that President Obama is waging a valiant, if understated, struggle against the unholy alliance of the Supreme Court, and the Republican majority in the House of Representatives. That majority is, of course, personified in House Speaker John Boehner. Thomasson uses his bully pulpit as a forum for attacking Republican obstructionism, and Supreme Court legalistic hair-splitting, all dressed up as a supposedly non-partisan look at the last week in Washington.

After stating that both President Obama and House Speaker Boehner had a tough week, the author jumps into the meat of his column. He largely blames the GOP for the President’s woes, and he chides the Supreme Court for adding to Obama’s difficulties. The author mentions the Supreme Court and the unanimous decision ruling that the President could not make recess appointments to offices, when the Senate, which must vote to confirm Presidential appointments, was not in recess. He was referring, of course, to the infamous appointments of individuals to the National Labor Relations Board, while the Senate was still in session a few years ago. Thomasson says nothing about the case exemplifying Obama’s usurpations of power, or the clear fact that he had acted in a cavalier and illegal manner. He simply notes that, “…the President had his knuckles rapped by the Supreme Court…” and notes that a 9-0 decision is exceedingly rare. Thomasson suggests waggishly that this is similar to being knocked on the head by the Chief Justice, with the Associate Justices all waiting in line to take their turn with the gavel.


Brian Birdnow

Brian E. Birdnow is a historian and teaches at a university in the St. Louis area.