The Salt Lake Tribune delivers a backhanded barrage to GOP Sen. Orrin Hatch, naming him 2017 "Utahn of the Year" not for his accomplishments, but for the sheer amount of destruction he has caused in the lives of the people of the state.
These things are often misunderstood. So, lest our readers, or the honoree himself, get the wrong impression, let us repeat the idea behind The Salt Lake Tribune’s Utahn of the Year designation.
The criteria are not set in stone. But this year, as many times in the past, The Tribune has assigned the label to the Utahn who, over the past 12 months, has done the most. Has made the most news. Has had the biggest impact. For good or for ill.
The selection of Sen. Orrin G. Hatch as the 2017 Utahn of the Year has little to do with the fact that, after 42 years, he is the longest-serving Republican senator in U.S. history, that he has been a senator from Utah longer than three-fifths of the state’s population has been alive.
It has everything to do with recognizing:
- Hatch’s part in the dramatic dismantling of the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments.
- His role as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee in passing a major overhaul of the nation’s tax code.
- His utter lack of integrity that rises from his unquenchable thirst for power.
Each of these actions stands to impact the lives of every Utahn, now and for years to come. Whether those Utahns approve or disapprove of those actions has little consequence in this specific recognition. Only the breadth and depth of their significance matters.
As has been argued in this space before, the presidential decision to cut the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in half and to slash the size of the brand new Bears Ears National Monument by some 90 percent has no constitutional, legal or environmental logic.
To all appearances — appearances promoted by Hatch — this anti-environmental, anti-Native American and, yes, anti-business decommissioning of national monuments was basically a political favor the White House did for Hatch. A favor done in return for Hatch’s support of the president generally and of his tax reform plan in particular.
And, on the subject of tax reform: For a very long time indeed, Hatch has said that his desire to stick around long enough to have a say in what indeed would be a long-overdue overhaul of the nation’s Byzantine tax code is the primary reason he has run for re-election time after time.
Last week, he did it.
And with that "accomplishment" the paper calls for Hatch to retire from the Most August Deliberative Body™.
It would be good for Utah if Hatch, having finally caught the Great White Whale of tax reform, were to call it a career. If he doesn’t, the voters should end it for him.
Hatch, in either a failed effort to play along or a mind-numbing bout of cluelessness, posted the following on Twitter:
He's "grateful for this great Christmas honor" he says. Which, frankly, sums up Hatch's nearly 42 years in office.