Saturday, February 1, 2014

Faleomavaega on Hillary’s Hit List?

It recently has been revealed that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been keeping a score card or “hit list” of those who did or did not endorse her in her first run for the presidency in 2008 against Barack Obama.  Please read this PoliticoMagazine story for greater details about the list.

It is no secret that Faleomavaega was one of Obama’s earliest backers while then Gov. Togiola Tulafono endorsed then-Sen. Clinton.  When she came through here as Secretary a few years ago, we all watched carefully as Faleomavaega used his precious time with her on the ground to plead for debt relief for Cambodia while Togiola asked that American Samoa be allowed to seek official observer status at the Pacific Islands Forum—a dream that had eluded several governors before him but was always denied by State.

It also did not go unnoticed on the island that when Mrs. Clinton returned to Washington, nothing further was done on Cambodian debt relief but she did announce that State would change its long-standing policy and allow its Pacific territories to participate at the Forum as observers.

With the odds high that Mrs. Clinton will be the Democratic Party’s nominee in 30 months time, the local Democratic party would do well to hustle Faleomavaega into retirement as quickly as possible so that American Samoa is not disadvantaged under a Clinton presidency.  It could be a lose/lose situation for us: Hillary wins and we get punished because Eni is on her hit list; Hillary loses and we get punished because Republicans control the White House as well as the House.

Here is why the time right for Faleomavaega to put in his retirement papers:

  •  he supported Obama over Hillary in 2008 (and as far as we can tell, has gotten nothing for it) and is probably on her hit list described in the Politico article;  

  •  he is suffering severe health problems and is no longer up to the job;  even if he were not ill, he now is over 70 years old and while age and wisdom are valued in our culture, not so in Washington; there are few members of the House over 70;  

  •  he no longer has Senator Inouye on whom to rely in a tight legislative spot; had the Senator still been alive and been in charge of appropriations on the Senate side, the reduction of Buy America for tuna never would have been in the final appropriations bill and Eni was not around to try to stop it himself;
  • the retirements of allies Reps. George Miller and Henry Waxman take away two people on whom he could rely for help in the House (although it was Miller who sandbagged him and continues to sandbag him on minimum wage);
  • even if he were healthy, he served on a committee, Foreign Affairs, of little value to us and we have seen no evidence that his service as the senior Democrat on the Asia-Pacific subcommittee has brought us any benefits; he is in and out of places like Seoul and Bangkok all the time but there is no evidence that StarKist or Chicken of the Sea are influenced by him at all;
  • he never will serve in the Majority again--ever;  Democrats already pretty much are conceding control of the House this fall, with even the DNC chairman saying so; the earliest that Democrats might return to power in the House is 2022 after the next redistricting; were he still alive and in office, Eni would be approaching 80;  we need someone new to start building seniority now; if you aren't in the Majority, you are nothing; if you are a non-voting delegate in the Minority, you are less than nothing, particularly if you have a worthless committee assignment;
Over the years, Faleomavaega has been one of those who has taken the time to stake out his ground on the House floor so as to be seen on television.  We watched very carefully this year and while we saw the Guam and Virgin Islands delegates well positioned to greet the President as he strode past them on the way to the dais, Faleomavaega was nowhere to be seen.  Even though his office continues to furiously pump out news releases (including one commenting on Obama’s speech), and our local media continue to use them (especially Samoa News, where his sister-in-law is on the editorial staff) as if he were back in his office, we have no evidence to suggest he is in Washington at all.

We have not yet called for his early retirement but if this Buy America problem does not get resolved, then maybe he needs to reconsider.  It is clear that representing American Samoa by press release and letters issued from bed is not doing the job.  It may be time to go.

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