|"Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast"
|"The liberal soul shall be made fat, and he that watereth, shall be watered also himself."
-- Proverbs 11:25
About 10:30 Monday morning, Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), an ardent foe of big government, posted a blog item on his campaign Web site about the huge oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. "I strongly believe BP is spread too thin," he wrote.
The poor dears. He thinks it would be a better arrangement if "federal and state officials" would do the dirty work of "protecting and cleaning up the coast" instead of BP.
About an hour later came word from the Pentagon that Alabama, Florida and Mississippi -- all three governed by men who once considered themselves limited-government conservatives -- want the federal government to mobilize (at taxpayer expense, of course) more National Guard troops to aid in the cleanup.
That followed an earlier request by the small-government governor of Louisiana, Bobby Jindal (R), who issued a statement saying he had called the Obama administration "to outline the state's needs" and to ask "for additional resources." Said Jindal: "These resources are critical."
About the time that Alabama, Florida and Mississippi were asking for more federal help, three small-government Republican senators, Richard Shelby and Jeff Sessions of Alabama and George LeMieux of Florida, were flying over the gulf on a U.S. government aircraft with small-government Republican Rep. Jeff Miller (Fla.).
"We're here to send the message that we're going to do everything we can from a federal level to mitigate this," Sessions said after the flight, "to protect the people and make sure when people are damaged that they're made whole."
Sessions, probably the Senate's most ardent supporter of tort reform, found himself extolling the virtues of litigation -- against BP. "They're not limited in liability on damage, so if you've suffered a damage, they are the responsible party," said Sessions, sounding very much like the trial lawyers he usually maligns.
All these limited-government guys expressed their belief that the British oil company would ultimately cover all the costs of the cleanup. "They're not too big to fail," Sessions said. "If they can't pay and they've given it everything they've got, then they should cease to exist." But if you believe that the federal government won't be on the hook for a major part of the costs, perhaps you'd like to buy a leaky oil well in the Gulf of Mexico.
It may have taken an ecological disaster, but the gulf-state conservatives' newfound respect for the powers and purse of the federal government is a timely reminder for them. As conservatives in Washington complain about excessive federal spending, the ones who would suffer the most from spending cuts are their own constituents.