Verner column: Making a bid for a seat in the Senate
To: Gov. Rod Blagojevich
Re: Possible government job opening
I note from recent news reports that you have been interviewing potential candidates for the Senate seat being vacated by President-elect Barack Obama. If this position has not been filled, I would be interested in discussing this at your earliest possible convenience. I realize you are especially busy right now with certain pressing legal issues, but I would appreciate it if we could schedule an interview before you advertise the job more widely ó especially if you plan to post the opening on eBay or Craigslist.
First, let me assure you that I’m well qualified for this job. As a student of political patronage and someone who obviously appreciates the free-market system, you are well aware that one of the most important responsibilities of our elected (or duly appointed) representatives is to exert prudent financial stewardship by handing out mind-boggling sums of money to groveling supplicants who express neither the slightest gratitude nor make the flimsiest pretense of ever paying it back. As part of their job description, senators also frequently strike self-important poses and deliver words of wisdom that their listeners promptly ignore. As the father of a college student, I’ve had extensive experience in both of these areas.
Senators also must have character traits that enable them to act with circumspection and deliberation ó the kind of deliberation that can identify a potentially catastrophic situation such as the bankruptcy of the Social Security system or the collapse of credit markets and immediately cut to the heart of the matter by having drinks with lobbyists and then demanding that a 44-member study committee be formed ó immediately after Congress returns from its recess. (Why do we give Congress a recess? Could this be why its members seem as fractious and undisciplined as a gaggle of kindergartners?) Let me assure you that I always act with circumspection and deliberation, being loath to make snap judgments or rush into anything. I never begin my Christmas shopping before Dec. 23, and I’ve been known to spend hours in the aisle at AutoZone agonizing over which is really in the nation’s best longterm interests ó the semi-synthetic motor oil for $3.95 a quart, or the fully synthetic that costs twice as much but promises to reduce cylinder bore wear and allow for a third more miles between changes. That’s the kind of thought process that comes in handy when you’re considering off-shore drilling and windfall profit taxes on Exxon.
Let me be the first to say, sir, that I am in complete agreement with your assessment that this position is “(expletive) golden” and I certainly don’t think that you should simply hand over such a plum job for, as you so vividly put it, “(expletive) nothing.” After all, this is a Senate seat we’re talking about, the most exclusive club in the world. It’s not like you’re shopping around a slot with the Rotarians or the Knights of Columbus.
Did you know that a senator knocks down almost $200,000 a year? Of course you do! That’s why you’ve considered appointing yourself to the job ó and might I say, sir, you could do worse. However, if you’re going to appoint yourself senator, I’d suggest appointing yourself senator from Alaska, especially if you’re planning any home remodeling projects or want to get a really sweet deal on a snowmobile. Or if you’d like real job security and near-eternal life on earth, perhaps you should appoint yourself senator from South Carolina or West Virginia.
Besides the Senate salary, there’s the health care package, the pension, the car allowance, the office allowance, the chance to meet Bono and, best of all, the opportunity to have your admiring colleagues give you a really cool nickname like “The Hammer.” Given your obvious delight in the rich nuances of the English language, I’m sure that if you were a senator, you’d give yourself a much more creative nickname like “The (expletive) Hammer.”
Governor, there’s no disputing that this seat is worth every penny you’re asking. Unfortunately, with the collapse of my 401k and another tuition payment due, I’m a bit tapped out right now. I can’t scrape together $500,000 or $300,000 or even $10,000. The most I can offer you is maybe $250, but I’ll also kick in a 1997 Nissan pickup. Although it has a few minor mechanical and cosmetic issues, I did just change the oil. And after due deliberation, I splurged on the fully synthetic. It has a lot of good miles left in it ó at least enough to get you across the border into Mexico.
So think about it and give me a call. On second thought, maybe we should discuss this by e-mail.
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Chris Verner is editorial page editor of the Salisbury Post.