Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Positive Chutzpah

An act of chutzpah has more to do with how outrageously excessive it is, rather than whether or not the act is bad or good. This is evident in the definition that Leo Rosten supplied in The Joys of Yiddish:

Gall, brazen nerve, effrontery, incredible "guts"; presumption-plus-arrogance such as no other word, and no other language, can do justice to.

The Chutzpah of the Week award has concentrated almost exclusively on the negative connotation of the word, which is why, early in the week as it may be, I feel a need to assign this week's honor to New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer. Spitzer has done quite a few gutsy things in his career as New York Attorney General, but he is now preparing to bring the full force of his office against President George W. Bush over the latter's threat to veto the SCHIP bill. He has just announced this commitment on both the Daily Kos and The Huffington Post. Here is the basic thrust of his argument:

The bureaucratic barriers to coverage the Bush administration has imposed are not only fundamentally misguided, but also illegal...

...They conflict with the statute authorizing SCHIP. Moreover, they were issued without the opportunity for public comment, as required by federal law. Accordingly, I have joined Democratic and Republican governors from states across the country to bring a lawsuit challenging these new rules in court.

How far will Spitzer get with his challenge? I suspect that, at the very least, he will give the White House lawyers a run for their money; and Spitzer's track record for keeping his outrages in the public spotlight has been a good one. If this turns into a case of major national embarrassment, then it will have been an exercise of chutzpah for a good cause!

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