Tuesday, October 10, 2006
Wash Po’s Editorial Hit Piece on George Allen
There is a trick to using an Op-Ed forum to take a shot at a political adversary. It should be done with information that does not contain too many hypothetical leaps by the author in order to understand the point – if, in fact, such a point exists.
Today’s Washington Post Op-Ed pages takes aim at Virginia Senator George Allen. Having failed to keep the Macaca and N-word controversy from being killed off the front page by irrelevance, the Posties dug up a fresh “new” controversy about the amorphous issue of stock options.
The thinly veiled political hit piece is entitled “Mr. Allen's Ethics”. Memo #1 to the Posties: George Allen is a United State Senator despite your desires to the contrary. Tradition, tact, and respect dictate that you refer to him as Senator Allen. You are quite obviously lacking in all three of those categories.
The first area in which the Posties deride Senator Allen is his professional exploits between the time he left Virginia’s Governor’s Mansion and the time he took his seat as her junior senator. What was Allen’s offense during these intervening months? He made money. Yes, dear reader, he committed the unpardonable sin (among leftists anyway) of turning a profit. Says the Posties:
It is not illegal for a governor to help out companies while in office and then join with them once he leaves -- though one can certainly question the ethics of doing so. (Emphasis added)Thus far, the people of the Commonwealth of Virginia have not seen fit to make such conduct illegal, nor do they consider it unethical. The Op-Ed hit piece only deteriorates from here.
Now we enter into two hypothetical situations where Senator Allen may have possibly benefited from companies who requested aid from him once he took office as a US Senator. He owned 110,000 shares of Xybernaut stock. Xybernaut wanted an Army contract, Allen tried and failed to persuade the Army to contract with Xybernaut. Allen’s stock in that company is virtually worthless, never the less, the Posties declare:
Had the Army heeded Mr. Allen's request and come down in Xybernaut's favor, the firm's stock price might well have gone up.To quote the USS Enterprise’s Chief Engineer Montgomery Scott – “And if my sister had wheels, she’d be a wagon”. If I’d bought Yahoo at $10 a share, I’d be dirty rotten stinking filthy rich. But I didn’t, and I’m not. Someone needs to inform the Posties you can’t indict someone for something that didn’t happen.
Their last shot at Senator Allen delves into the always popular realm of financial disclosure. Senators are required to disclose their personal worth and investments for public scrutiny. This is all fine and good except for the fact the ranges are so large its difficult to tell the princes from the paupers. But I digress.
Senator Allen holds stock options in a company called Commonwealth Biotechnologies Inc. He did not declare them on his financial disclosure form because the option price is currently higher than the value of the stock – a financial situation the industry refers to as “underwater”. This means the stock options have no worth – hence no need to declare them. Not good enough for the Posties:
That is beside the point. What is relevant is that Mr. Allen has a financial stake in Commonwealth, which as a government contractor may have business before Congress.This hypothetical conflict of interest is so thin it makes a Brazilian Dental Floss Bikini look modest.
The Posties call this “ethical sloppiness”. I call their thinly veiled political hit piece masquerading as an editorial a sorry excuse for journalism. Tomorrow’s fish catch will be complaining about the quality of their wrappings.
Here endeth the lesson.