On Friday November 3rd, another bombshell went off as another of Bush’s foot soldiers for faux freedom fell: Tommy Thompson was gone. The Secretary of Health and Human Services who’d called himself the director of “America’s Department of Compassion” had waged the good fight for four years. He’d originally been tapped by Bush in hope that Thompson could do the same thing for our national social service network that he’d done for Wisconsin’s social service network while governor: in other words wreck it. He may not have fit into the flight suit, but by the time he departed, Thompson too could’ve waved the banner proclaiming “Mission Accomplished.”
Good old Tommy Thompson, as the man who rightly claimed to have coined the phrase “compassionate conservative” (we could have known it wasn’t Bush since the phrase involves two four syllable words) Thompson had hoped to prove that the “the right could care.” If he meant “care” about the rich, the energy and arms industries and waging holy war against gays and Muslims, then Thompson’s four years as a foot soldier in Bushco. were not in vain. In fact Thompson’s last act as HHS Director was to raise the terror alert to Salmonella pink encouraging terrorist to tamper with our food supply: “For the life of me, I cannot understand why the terrorists have not attacked our food supply because it is so easy to do.” Ah, that’s the kind of protection you want from the guy in charge of safeguarding our nation’s health.
After all he was the kind of guy who wanted to install Newt Gingrich as his replacement because Gingrich had done such a fine job guarding the health of his first wife when she had cancer (he divorced her to continue enjoying his 6 year affair with a congressional aide twenty years his junior). It appears however Bush’s pick for replacing Thompson will be a Dr. Mark McClellan, the brother of Whitehouse Press Secretary Scott McClellan, thus providing the president with stereo mouthpieces.
But whether Thompson will be remembered as the humanist who saved frozen embryos from the horrors of stem cell research (so they could be thrown away instead), the craftsman who chopped up departments in his own agency so the government could give funding to religious social services instead, or the architect of the multi-billion dollar “Big Pharma” boondoggle known as the impending Social Security prescription drug benefit, there is little doubt Thompson will be remembered, and bitterly by most. Tommy Thompson may have wanted to give Bushco. the appearance of conservatives who were compassionate, but reviewing his record we instead see they really just wanted to be conservative about their compassion, conservatively compassionate.
With Thompson down, Bush has lost more than half of his cabinet in just the first month following the election. Bush’s Whitehouse has yet to begin its second term and already the cabinet has collapsed. Some have noted that Clinton also replaced half of his cabinet in his second term, but that took four years, not four weeks. Colin Powell (State), John Ashcroft (Justice), Don Evans (Commerce), Ron Paige (Education), Tom Ridge (Security), Ann Veneman (Agriculture), Spencer Abraham (Energy) and now Tommy Thompson, gone, gone, gone, falling faster than the dollar on the Asian money markets. Don’t forget former CIA head George Tenet, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, U.N. ambassador John Danforth and the pending resignations of Treasury Secretary John Snow and Transportation Czar Norman Mineta, it is a veritably classic case of ships fleeing a sinking rat.
Mikel Weisser teaches social studies and poetry on the West Coast of Arizona. He can be reached at: email@example.com
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