Our View: Thompson appointment = opportunity

January 18, 2007 11:00 pm

Local Congressman Mike Thompson's appointment to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence bodes well for Del Norte County.

At first glance, the appointment may not seem so wonderful. Certainly the local issues that we're most concerned about – fighting meth, economic development and the lack of health care providers – has little to do with the CIA and gathering of intelligence.

But the Intelligence Committee is a prestigious assignment, especially now given the war in Iraq and Osama bin Laden still at large. Considering that the Intelligence Committee likely will play a key role in the Democrat's strategy to take back the White House, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi would not appoint Thompson to it if she didn't trust him.

And on Capitol Hill, loyalty is rewarded – usually with goodies for one's home district.

We don't mean to sound cynical about politics or the Democrats. But with rare exception that has been the political reality in Washington for more than two centuries, regardless of who's in power. Thomas Jefferson as a president, Davy Crockett as a congressman and modern day political analysts all have complained about the primacy of politicking on Capitol Hill.

In any case, we have little doubt that Pelosi – or any other House speaker – would appoint someone to the Intelligence Committee who didn't have a little background and keen interest in the issues it addresses. As a Vietnam combat veteran, Thompson certainly has the credentials, and as a vocal critic of the Iraq war, definitely the interest. But he also has Pelosi's trust.

The question now facing local officials is if they'll make sure we benefit from Thompson's elevated position. County, city and area civic leaders ought to jointly develop a strategy for ensuring we stay in touch with his office so our needs – such as improvements to federal highways and the local airport, enhanced resources to combat meth and additional financial support for health provider recruitment – are met.

The sooner we do this the better. We only have a couple of short years before the next election, after all. As the Republicans' fall in 2006 despite solid wins in 2004 show, in politics the winds change very rapidly and often unpredictably.