Press "Enter" to skip to content

Posts tagged as “Interior”

Kempthorne for president?

Dirk Kempthorne

Dirk Kempthorne

Don't count on this one happening. But in some ways there's not a shock in seeing it - the notion being floated about Dirk Kempthorne, former interior secretary and former Idaho governor and senator, running for president in 2012. (To be clear, there's no specific indication that any of this has come from Kempthorne himself.)

A few thoughts . . .

One is that having such trial balloons floated isn't an especially bad idea, even if you never follow up on them. The idea that you might become a real national figure, in the top=rank way that presidential contenders and few others are, gives you heft and prominence in whatever you're doing right now, whether that is serving in Congress, as governor of Alaska or even if you're in the process of nailing down ongoing employment.

Another is that there's some reflection here of the thinness of the national Republican bench. Looking to 2012 there are such names as Romney and Palin and Huckabee, but their actual campaign history in 2008 exposed serious weaknesses for all of them, and many Republicans may be looking elsewhere. But where? Going back decades, there's always been at least one and maybe more plausible major figures for Republicans headed into the presidential cycle; who would that be now? Lesser-known figures might realistically enter seriously into the mix.

Third: Kempthorne? interior secretary is a national post, but he's hardly a household name, and connections to the Bush Administration may be politically toxic for a while. He's been a down-the-line standard conservative, as the term has been understood in recent years; but how is that likely to help in 2012? He does have good campaigning skills, though, and as the Atlantic's Marc Ambinder points out, he is close to the natural resource industries, which could help fund the early stages of a campaign.

Would he try to do it? Not likely. The Idaho Statesman's Kevin Richert noted that "He has never said that to me and in recent talks with his associates no one made any suggestions that he was looking at it." This is probably a trial balloon being lofted for other purposes. But then, that's partly what trial balloons are for.

Idahoans, D.C. and the Kempthorne bathroom

No, this is a different bathroom story. But is there something about Idahoans who go to Washington and, well . . .

There was some rumble a few days ago about this, and we held off comment until the Washington Post, which first wrote about it, got together a more complete account. Today they have, in "Flushing Out Interior's Bathroom Spending," about the price tag for construction of a new bathroom in the office of the secretary of the Interior. Who has been, for the last two and a half years, former Idaho Governor Dirk Kempthorne.

What got everyone's attention was, in contrast to another famous occurrance, not what happened in it, but rather the price tag for the remodel: $236,000. The article points out that as of late last year, the median price for a house in Boise was $187,000.

An inspector general is looking into it.

Probably not the last - as a Bush Administration official - big headline Kempthorne might have wished for.

ALSO The Idaho Falls Post Register brings up a point that should have come immediately to mind. When Kempthorne was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1992, his key campaign television ad - the one most often mentioned and thought to have given him much the biggest boost - showed ordinary Idahoan touring D.C., angered and seemingly surprised to find paid elevator operators and a Capitol Hill subway system: "Well, it sure looks like a lot of spending around here to me."