The congressional full employment season has begun in Oregon and other parts of the hinterlands. We used to call it “political campaigning” but it’s largely become a job placement activity.

Looking on both sides of the road you can see activity in the bushes as the job seekers try to find the best opening and begin foraging for the resources (read “money”) to find employment at the public trough.

Certainly this doesn’t describe all the candidates out there. Some good ones are beginning to be picked up in our headlights. But it does describe the activities of far too many. Especially federally.

It’s been said you can’t go broke underestimating the intelligence of the public. I’ve never really bought into that as a whole. However if you substitute “some members of congress” for the word “public” you now have a proposition I can support.

I’ve been astounded watching some of these offenders of ethics and honesty stand in front of crowds and deliberately lie about what is in the non-existent “health care reform bill.” That’s right: non-existent.

There are several proposals floating around congress being touted by these miscreants as “THE BILL” but none have been laid on the table for formal committee action or authored by the president. None. Which may be Mr. Obama’s biggest problem.

The president handed control of this uncontrollable situation to anyone in congress who wanted to say anything … factual or not. What was needed when he began his pitch for health care reform was his “health care reform bill.” Imperfect or improbable, it would have established a point of reference … a ground zero as it were.

Imagine Moses coming down the mountain with no stone tablets and saying to the masses “God wants you to follow his rules which will be adopted after future hearings.” You can guess how effective that would have been.

But I digress. We were talking about the ethical fitness … or lack there of … of some of the civilians in the hinterlands who want to get on the federal gravy train.

Neither party has a corner on the unfit-for-public-service candidacies of some of these people. Offices in the Longworth House or Dirksen Senate Office Buildings have long been catnip to many. Then, they get that sip of Potomac water (read power) and the career politician is invented.

People on the fringy right have long wrapped themselves in the constitution of this country, attempting to twist and bend certain out-of-context parts to make their points, as they do with the Bible. Several have made sure I have my own vest pocket version to carry around. Which I don’t.

What they fail to look at is the office-holding mindset of those who wrote that document. Contrary to the mail I get, no, they weren’t all lawyers and weren’t all Christians. Those guys put aside varied personal private sector careers, went to Philadelphia to kick this country off, then went home to go back to work. None … including G. Washington … wanted a federal career at that time.

Now we’ve bred a class of people wanting to grab the federal brass ring and hold on with both hands … cradle to grave. Oregon and her sister states have produced a few who could be full-time legislators and who served with distinction. But we’ve also elected our share of duds who would’ve had trouble staying employed in the private sector.

We don’t ask much. If we sense one or more of the applicants for employment have some good ideas and some sort of ethical compass, we give ‘em a “ticket to ride.” If they work out, we renew their option. To most of us, it doesn’t make much difference which political party they represent. I’ve split my ticket for years. I’d bet most voters do.

Problem is the system has been rigged so, once on the gravy train, it’s damned hard to get ‘em off. The late Mo Udall told me once “These people learned the rules to get themselves here and they damned sure aren’t going to change them!”

There isn’t much we can do about the quality .. or lack thereof … of people chasing our vote. It’s like shopping at a discount warehouse: what’s on the shelf that day is all there is. But we can learn to be more careful with our ballot, more discerning of the ethics and honesty of the model we’re offered and remember that, once we give ‘em the ticket, it’s hard to get ‘em off the train.

Even the fast food business has a hiring probationary period. If it’s good enough for burger flippers, it ought to be good enough for congress.

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