A gesture to please everyone on a night marked by partisan differences, with the U.S. having just dropped further down the list of the world’s most competitive economies. Republicans will enjoy the spectacle of The One being confronted by a prominent victim of overregulation and Democrats will enjoy pounding on them for inviting someone to a major presidential speech whose company is under federal investigation . Everybody wins.
In addition to those Republican lawmakers who have announced – motivated, it seems, by disrespect — that they will decline to attend President Obama’s Thursday night jobs address to a joint session of Congress, Republicans are also taking the additional step of inviting a man whose company the Obama administration is investigating for possibly breaking the law.
Henry Juszkiewicz, the CEO of Gibson Guitar Corp., will either sit in the House Gallery as the guest of his member of Congress, Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn. (members of Congress each get to invite one guest to sit in that balcony), or he will be invited to sit in the speaker of the House’s box for the speech, Republican officials tell ABC News…
Andrea Johnson, director of forest programs for the Environmental Investigation Agency in Washington, told National Public Radio that Gibson “made a decision in the end that they were going to source despite knowing that there was a ban on exports of ebony and rosewood. … The intent here is to reduce illegal logging and send a signal to the markets that you’ve got to be asking questions and sourcing wood in a responsible way.”
If I’m understanding the applicable law correctly, Gibson is as much a victim of Indian protectionism as they are federal meddling. Watch the quickie John Roberts segment below for the gist of it. The wood they use to make guitar keyboards is sufficiently rare/endangered that it can’t be exported legally from India unless it’s already been finished by Indian workers, and under U.S. law, if the export is illegal under Indian law, then it’s illegal here too. The governing statute, the Lacey Act, was passed in 1900, but only in 2008 was it expanded to include plants as well as animals, which is why Gibson’s now being hassled about the wood. All of which is jim dandy — except for the question of why Gibson seems to be getting so much federal attention vis-a-vis other firms. Roberts touches on that.
Incidentally, The One’s speech has already been preempted in the Milwaukee area in favor of the Packers pre-game show. Too bad for Wisconsinites, as now they won’t get to watch him announce that he’s extending the tax break for … corporate jets. Yes, really.