The prize committee for the annual Nagin/Nifong Award for Inconceivable Incompetence in the Line of Duty is pleased to announce their first nominees for 2007.
This award was instituted in 2006 to highlight the public official or officials who most memorably exhibited that kind of abstruse incompetence unique to government offices removed and insulated from any kind of market correction or public flight.
Its original namesake was New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, whose mishandlings of the Hurricane Katrina catastrophe included not implementing the city's emergency plan to use its school and commuter buses to help evacuate poorer residents, leaving buses and residents behind to the ravages of nature. In the award's inaugural year, however, the competition was so one-sided, and the winner so exemplary, that his name has been added to the award itself.
Now disbarred and officially disgraced, having committed dozens of acts of professional misconduct, Durham, N.C., district attorney Mike Nifong so unabashedly and hamfistedly mishandled a stripper's hopelessly false allegation of gang rape at a Duke University lacrosse party that his name soon gained popular use as a verb meaning "to be prosecuted unjustly." No one wants to be nifonged. Nifong easily edged out his closest competition for the award, Matthew Amorello, former chairman of the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority who presided over Boston's disastrous Big Dig.
The prize committee was so impressed by Nifong's misbehavior in office last year that they deemed it worthy of adding his name to the award itself. It has now been rechristened the Nagin/Nifong Award — or the "Ninny" for short.
Alongside that announcement, the committee wishes to announce its first nominees for this year's Ninny. They are the Senate Republicans voting for the Senate Amnesty bill and President George W. Bush for making it a Republican issue in the first place. The committee has been watching their efforts with increasing interest over the past few weeks, and it decided that Tuesday's cloture vote met the award's threshold for consideration.
A note on their qualification: it wasn't enough for the president and Senate Republicans to prioritize amnesty for illegal immigrants over border control in this post-Sept. 11 environment. It wasn't enough for them to continue on these lines even after losing Congress in 2006, in no small part owing to a protest vote from their base because of those same misplaced priorities.
Nor was it enough for them to allege ignorance, bigotry, racism, and the like on the part of their own conservative base for their opposition to the plan – invectives that were easily proven false by simply sampling actual conservative opinion on the subject. Nor was it their newfound coziness with Democrats, whose political motives cannot be said to include doing what's best for Republicans, but which warmly bask in the slander of conservatives, in pushing for this legislation.
It is all those things in conjunction with Tuesday's vote to restart debate on the legislation, which would grant amnesty to about 10 million illegal aliens and in the long run result in the largest expansion of the welfare state in 35 years. The Ninny prize committee is interested in a proven track record of bewildering ill deeds and missteps, not a temporary taking leave of one's senses.
Without further ado, here are our nominees:
President Bush and those Republicans voting yea on the cloture motion: Bob Bennett (Utah), Kit Bond (Missouri), Sam Brownback (Kansas), Richard Burr (North Carolina), Norm Coleman (Minnesota), Susan Collins (Maine), Larry Craig (Idaho), Pete Domenici (New Mexico), John Ensign (Nevada), Lindsey Graham (South Carolina), Judd Gregg (New Hampshire), Chuck Hagel (Nebraska), Jon Kyl (Arizona), Trent Lott (Mississippi), Richard Lugar (Indiana), Mel Martinez (Florida), John McCain (Arizona), Mitch McConnell (Kentucky), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Olympia Snowe (Maine), Arlen Specter (Pennsylvania), Ted Stevens (Alaska), George Voinovich (Ohio), and John Warner (Virginia).
At this point, these nominations are preliminary based on the outcome and final vote on the legislation itself. More Republicans can insert themselves for preliminary consideration in the Ninny contest by voting on the second, final cloture vote Thursday. The committee acknowledges the possibility that Senate Republicans could remove themselves from Ninny award consideration by voting against cloture on Thursday, which could delay a final vote on the legislation.
Till then, the Ninny prize committee wishes to encourage all nominees so far to keep up the bad work. Your diligence will be rewarded some day.