Apparently, this is what anyone who aspires to be a political leader has to do now. Mickey Kaus, of Kausfiles (available on Slate.com) just wrote a piece about the head of Barack Obama’s committee to search for a running mate, Jim Johnson, and his purported underhanded pecuniary shenanigans. Now, I don’t know much about Johnson and feel no pressing motive for learning about someone who will presumably disappear as soon as the veep is anointed. But Kaus’s view, that this fellow is a “palaeoliberal” and not at all the sort to remake politics as we know it, might have some validity to it. Granted.
a). Participation in rampant, sudden, trendy, overwhelming, utterly ubiquitous use of the verb “to vet.” Where I come from, a “vet” is a doctor for animals, not some kind of hazing or trial by ordeal, presumably conducted by media moguls and/or “the American people.” The uses of this odious little verb, and the origins of its trendiness, seriously need to be vetted by means of a LexisNexis analysis.
b). For the love of God, how much do you actually know about your friends’ finances?? Last time you sat down for a beer or a cup of joe with a friend or two, did you vet (argh) him or her about possible misuse of their comapnies’ stock? About questionable benefits packages? About whether they, in turn, might be friends with somebody who has an Italian last name who is connected to someone in the Mob?
No, I doubt it. The most I can tell you about my friends’ finances is who can lend me cash if I need it, and whom I lend cash to when they need it. Probably some of them have gotten some dubious funds, or will once they enter the reeling, chaotic world of fiduciary blah blah blah. Do I care? Really, no. Unless somebody claps me on the shoulder and asks in a seductive whisper if I could help him route some funds through the Federal Bank of Tanganiyka, I’m not even going to think about your finances.
The point is, these things only come to light during major public campaigns. With good reason: if one of our candidates were rotten to the core, well, I’d want to know about it before voting. But if one of them shook hands with a man who knew Fidel Castro in the sixties? Big freakin’ deal. I don’t even mean this as a defense of Barack Obama. Just a sort of private and absurd wish that people would act like grownups despite the election season instead of ransacking the closets of the most insignificant aides and flunkies in search of skeletons and copy.