It takes so little to keep Congress happy. Just give them something to
investigate. They simply don't have enough to do, what with the budget,
education, health care and other stuff like that. A poor little six
year old boy found floating in the Florida straits on an inner tube -- a
little boy who needs nothing but love and comforting for his lost mother
-- has become a media star and a political football and the center of,
oh my yes, another endless, useless Congressional investigation.
I usually disagree with Kathleen Parker, but she really hit the nail on
the head in her column of April 19, headlined, "It Takes a Village to
Raze a Child." She wrote, "From day one -- that is, Thanksgiving Day
1999 when Elian was found clinging to a raft in the Florida Straits --
the child belonged with his surviving parent. He still would have had to
grieve for his dead mother, but better to suffer in the loving arms of
his own father than among strangers whose 15 minutes of fame are long
expired." Well, she goofed on the last phrase. Their minutes of fame
have not expired.
Most Americans agreed with Parker on that day, and most of us still
do. Certainly, I wish Elian could have been transferred to his father
peacefully with the cooperation of his Miami relatives. But when they
defied the law for months and refused to return him to his dad, there
was little choice.
Easter dawned clear and beautiful this year, full of hope and joy. My
first mistake of the day was to turn on the television set. Instead of
joy there was pure, unadulterated hatred spewing out. It came from
Little Havana in Miami and from the Republicans in Washington who built
a political bandwagon in a day and jumped on it so fast they nearly
overshot and fell off the other side.
This is a pretty tough time for conservative Republicans. I wonder how
the "family values" people are rationalizing it. Do they stick with
their concept of family values and the vital importance of fathers in
families? Or do they suddenly say that fathers are not nearly so
important as winning the votes of Little Havana in the pivotal state of
Florida with an election coming up?
Do they stick to their strict "law and order" stand, get tough on
criminals? Or do they applaud a group of people who openly defied the
law for several months?
Do they respect the United States flag so much that they are trying to
get a constitutional amendment making it illegal to burn the symbol of
our country? Or do they applaud the Cubans in Miami who waved U. S.
flags mounted upside down while they rioted in the streets?
It must be very confusing when you have to balance practical politics
One of my friends who denies being a political person, but perhaps is
one in the truest sense, put it quite clearly. "We are a nation of
laws. We believe in the family. A group of people is deliberately
flaunting the law. Go in and get him."
The most important objective of this tumult is winning Florida's
electoral votes in the election, but the most visible and vulnerable
target for Congressional rancor is Janet Reno. She, however, acted
carefully, legally and very patiently for months trying to solve the
standoff in spite of physical threats from the Miami family. Her job is
to enforce the law and she did it. She probably waited longer than she
should have but the rule of law was upheld.
And I hate to be too cynical about this, but I do wonder whether
Congress's animosity toward Ms. Reno would be so intense if she looked
like Julia Roberts and smiled more. Of course if she did she probably
would not have been appointed in the first place.
In any case, I trust Congress is having fun and I hope Elian and his dad
are having a great time together.