Busybody politicians focus on headlines over policy

With media attention trained on the regular circus of federal politics, politicians have been all too happy to play along. But not everything that’s in a headline should be answered with a self-important hearing or result in presidential action.

Take, for example, the two stories dominating the news cycle: a college cheating scandal and the potentially deadly flaw in some Boeing planes. Both have generated plenty of interest from politicians, and that’s to be expected: They deal directly with education and safety, issues that Americans care deeply about.

But the immediate response to both of those headlines went well beyond statements of concern or pledges to work with appropriate agencies to address clear problems. Instead, politicians went all in. Lawmakers demanded hearings on the college scandal. President Trump denounced modern aviation technology on Twitter and personally spoke with Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg on the phone.

Neither of those are appropriate responses.

The federal racketeering charges against those parents determined to cheat their kids into schools should rightfully be left to the courts, where they’ll play out in due course. Congress has no business turning those yet to be decided cases into the partisan spectacle that hearings on the role of money in higher education would almost certainly become.
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