You know what I love about the Homeland Security Department? (Now there's a phrase you don't hear very often.) It has become a national Rorshach test: No one has the same reaction to the agency, but everyone has a response.
While thinking about this blog entry, I contacted my small personal research group, asking for their thoughts about DHS. It was a weekend, so I only received two responses, and one was from my wife, who couldn't avoid me. The other was from my friend Jack who, when I asked him if he could recommend anything to read that would give me insight into the DHS, responded "1984."
My wife, who couldn't avoid me but who works for a federal agency (which will remain unnamed -- we like our health benefits, thank you very much) was much more descriptive. She has had a series of adventures in her office that have been based on DHS directives, and she hopes to get back to her regular work sometime next month, after finally completing said directives. But that's material for a future blog entry.
As someone who lives well outside of the Beltway, it seems to me that DHS discussions seem to break into inside-the-beltway and outside-the-beltway concerns. Inside the Beltway, the conversations and topics I hear and read about are management-related: the construction and operation of the DHS, employees' issues, procurement concerns, etc. Outside the Beltway, it's all about how this newly constructed, third-largest federal agency is affecting our lives. Arguably, the creation of the department could be considered one of the major happenings of this administration, and you'd think there'd be some discussion of this in the current presidential campaign. You'd be disappointed.
There's a famous quote attributed to the basketball god, Michael Jordan. During his playing career, he was asked why he didn't offer any support to the 1990 senatorial campaign of Harvey Gantt, a Democratic candidate who was attempting to become the South's first African-American senator since Reconstruction, running in Jordan's home state of North Carolina. Jordan's response was "Because Republicans buy sneakers, too." This sentiment, ironically, seems to have become a mantra for campaigns. A process in which candidates should be separating themselves from their opposition has become entangled with the candidates desire not to separate themselves from the oppositions' potentially vote-switching supporters.
Of course, the candidates' visions for DHS aren't the only major issues not being discussed on the campaign trail. This leaves us with the chicken-and-egg scenario (Oh my, a Rorschach reference and a chicken-and-egg reference in the same piece -- let me see if I can work in a "slippery slope" next.)
Do the candidates not address the issues because the public doesn't care about them or does the public not care about them because the candidates don't address them? That leads us to the slippery slope (yes!) of interview questions that seem as if they were culled from the letters to the editor section of Tiger Beat magazine. Which leads further down the slippery slope to this week's cartoon.
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