Las Vegas Sun

November 15, 2018

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Jon Ralston:

Shocked, shocked that people had fun in Vegas

So, 3,000 miles away, some important people are going on and on about what a crazy town Vegas can be and Nevada’s elected officials are ... outraged?

No Tyson tiger in the bathroom, lost teeth anywhere or marriages to explain, but the GSA hangover has to be one of the most unintentionally funny stories to come along in a while, with Nevada politicians perfectly playing their comedic turns.

“Personal attacks on Las Vegas serve no purpose and have the potential to impact the 370,000 employees and their families associated with the No. 1 industry in Southern Nevada,” Mayor Carolyn Goodman huffed when the $823,000 spending spree scandal broke a couple of weeks ago, doing her best Madeline Kahn.

Then this week, Rep.-elect Dina Titus, channeling Goldie Hawn perhaps, fulminated: “President Obama acted swiftly to punish those responsible for this blatant misuse of tax dollars. However, these hearings are nothing more than an attack on Las Vegas. Washington Republicans should stop using Las Vegas as a punching bag to score cheap political points and start working on putting Americans back to work.”

We also had Kelvin Atkinson, who happens to chair the Assembly Commerce Committee, conscripted by the Democrats to feign outrage a la Bill Cosby: “These hearings are nothing more than a cheap political stunt designed to embarrass Las Vegas. Washington Republicans are playing to the cameras and throwing Las Vegas under the bus in the process. President Barack Obama was right to fire those who oversaw tax dollar abuse and should be commended for it, but Republicans are simply using Las Vegas as a prop to get headlines.”

I know self-respect is supposed to take a holiday when people party in Vegas, but that’s not supposed to apply to the politicians, too.

Leave it to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who is usually the Robin Williams of the delegation, to lend some sanity by saying, “What the GSA did has nothing to do with Las Vegas. It has everything to do with stupidity, with a lack of common sense.”

Yes, spending almost a million bucks of taxpayer money on a government convention that featured mind readers, hot tubs and a bike-building exercise is insensate. But it’s also ... great for business. Especially during a recession.

What it does not lend itself to is congressional hearings, where GOP bloviators try to sound clever by doing various riffs on “what happens here stays here” and Democrats take umbrage that a hearing is even held.

So heads roll, a knucklehead pleads the Fifth (!) and everyone, from President Obama to the lowliest congressman looking for a headline, is incensed, shocked and ... wishing they had been at the GSA party.

Folks, get serious about this laughable “scandal.”

The Republicans mounting their high horses to express high moral dudgeon are a little much, as if it is Obama’s GSA, that it is something endemic to this administration, that caused this brouhaha. And now, they are launching their awful “personal attacks” on poor old Las Vegas.

Democrats can’t just shrug this off; they have to make it partisan by suggesting Republicans hate Sin City, as if they have suddenly become the hero of “Memento” and forgotten it was Obama who not once (forgivable and overblown by the Goodman Amplifier Effect) but twice (not so forgivable as presidential amnesia is not an accepted malady) invoked Las Vegas to discourage travel here at the height of the recession. I wrote about it several times, including here and here.

But just as there was a ridiculous overreaction to those Obama remarks and ongoing, shameless exploitation by GOP operatives, methinks the Democrats do posture too much now. And, as Roll Call’s Meredith Shiner reminded everyone in a story this week, it was Reid, trying to stanch the damage from Obama’s remarks, who pushed for government agencies to come enjoy the sinful offerings of Las Vegas. And now Reid is simply apoplectic that people would behave badly here.

I told you he can be funny.

Granted, it’s futile to ask either side to stop the kabuki — I can read the calendar. But maybe our defensive elected officials can cease declaring this story has nothing to do with Las Vegas.

It has everything to do with Las Vegas. This is where we want everyone, including government agencies, to blow a bunch of cash and to act irresponsibly. Why else would people come here?

The reason the president invoked the city’s name is the same reason the GSA came here: When you think of a place people go to have a good time, however anyone defines that, Las Vegas comes to mind.

I just hope no one in Congress suggests that there are hookers on the Strip or underage girls in some of the clubs or that adultery appears nightly. Now that would be an outrage.

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