Bob Franken

The Best Thing Is Nothing

I have an urgent request for the current administration: In the near future could you please, PLEASE, do as little as possible. That way, you can save the nation and the world from a lot of hassle.

I’m noting, for instance, reports that federal officials are feverishly trying to work out a blockbuster plan where the government will provide up to $50 billion to fund direct mortgage relief.

Could it be that they are racing to announce it in the next few days? If they do, would it rescue homeowners or John McCain? Would it secretly be timed to be a lifesaving jolt to McCain’s Republican campaign?

Even putting our educated suspicions aside, the outgoing should make as few momentous decisions as possible until we know who the incoming are. That would be simple fairness.

There will already be enough problems. without the added weight of consequential policy decisions that would be hasty, poorly thought out, doctrinaire, smelling of cronyism or borderline dishonest.

Shouldn’t the Treasury, for instance, hold off before doling out billions to the financial and manufacturing giants for purposes other than greasing the wheels of credit? Isn’t that what we thought it was for? It’s not that some of these favors might not be justified, but shouldn’t the new leaders at least be consulted, once we know who the newbies are?

In Iraq, is there any way to delay a binding troop agreement until we know what the national security policies of the United States are about to become?

It is true, that George W. Bush is President until January 20th, but does he really want to be remembered for thwarting the will of the voters in his last hours by leaving an even bigger mess to clean up?

As we traipse down Paranoia Lane, should we be watching very closely for the secret fast ones during the Bush End of Days?

I refer to the quiet Executive Orders and other moves outgoing Presidents use to sneak through regulations and other goodies to make sure they’ve taken care of their friends and supporters.

This is a bi-partisan problem. Remember all the controversy over Bill Clinton’s slew of last minute pardons?

It applies, though, to the entire range of slick little maneuvers that can lock in policies the voters have just repudiated. Wouldn’t we all be better off if we avoided a repeat of such shady tactics?

That’s down the road a tad. The immediate concern is the next few days, until the election. Until each voter has his say, there’s a Duke Ellington song that should suffice: “Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me.”

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