Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Mission to 18th and K

The decision of a 66 year old pedestrian to splay himself across the innocent windshield of columnist Robert Novak's Corvette convertible on July 23, 2008 was made routinely, at a low level of intellectual consideration and attention, without the columnist's knowledge. Remarkably, this produced a firestorm of media attention that has yet to subside.

Witnesses' reports that Novak drove directly into the pedestrian, who was crossing on the "Walk" signal, that the pedestrian was splayed across the windshield involuntarily, as a result of being struck by Novak's vehicle, and that Novak then drove away from the scene of the hit-and-run until a witness on a bicycle chased Novak, having to repeatedly block his vehicle to prevent Novak's attempts to escape from the scene were highly unlikely, regarded by the columnist as less than definitive, and it is doubtful that Novak ever saw him. Certainly officers on 18th Street did not, before they arrived at the downtown address, attributing Novak's behavior to "reckless driving" and issuing a $50 citation. That witness reports relied on the statements of a bicycle riding, knapsack wearing, possibly liberal and environmentalist lawyer made Novak's mission, moments earlier, the basis of unhinged Democratic accusations of "hitting a 66-year old man who was legally crossing the street" and "driving away after an accident victim was spread across the hood of your car", though these accusations were apparently forgotten by the time Novak was faced with reporters at the scene, and in response to their questions, tersely spoke.

Reluctance by the pedestrian to admit a mistake has led Democrats increasingly closer to saying that Novak dissembled about his actions when driving through the crosswalk. Even after a belated interview with TMZ, in which, in a quasi-apology rich with the dark irony for which he is noted, he stated that he was distracted while driving by "listening to NPR," finger-pointing at the events in the intersection continued. Messages between the Politico and Think Progress hashed over the quotes from witnesses, while more rational blogs speculated that the accident had been a set-up by liberal operatives, who hoped to draw attention from statements by John McCain praising the surge.

Novak's mission was created in his early crusading efforts to reform pedestrian behavior, using the clear, honest, visionary prose for which he has long been known. In 2001, he reportedly cursed at a jaywalker only blocks from the White House, on the corner of Pennsylvania Avenue and 13th Streets, intoning the command heard round the world, "Learn to read the signs, [bodily orifice]!" Stating further in an interview that "I really hate jaywalkers...I despise them...the only other option is to run them over...", Democratic operatives unfairly concluded that Novak's compassionate calling to urban reform in fact represented a mission to splay.

That's where Bono came in. Carrying the dual monikers of a sixties counterculture radical and a 21st century shades-wearing, debt-relieving, globe-trotting liberal firebrand, the bicyclist "witness" came to notice when, cruising lightly, almost as if windsurfing, he wheeled up on his no-doubt-French-made cycle to the window of Novak's Corvette (built entirely in the U.S.A.) and "hit the window with (his) fist." Bono claimed that he stated to Novak that "you can't just hit a pedestrian and drive away." He then placed his bicycle in front of Novak's car, apparently assuming that he had the force and authority to block Novak's further egress.

Bono is not a representative of District of Columbia Traffic Agency. However, his wife, Shaunee Moon (Littletree) Bono is an agency operative on liberalization of jaywalking policy. Two senior Traffic Agency officials told me that Bono's wife suggested sending him to 18th and K to intercept Novak's Corvette. The Agency states that its counterjaywalking officials chose Bono and asked Moon (Littletree) Bono to contact him. "I will not discuss any matters regarding my wife", said Bono, when I interviewed him, "Particularly when I am splayed across the hood of your car."

During the run-up to the 18th and K intercept (near the offices where he served), Bono had made oral reports to friends that "accidents are not that likely", and that "you are more likely to be injured slipping in the shower than crossing the street; after all, in the street, there are traffic signals." Notably, Bono's oral statements did not include mention of the possibility of pedestrians voluntarily launching themselves onto moving automobiles. The report of the Agency's interview with Bono remains classified.

After Novak stated that "He's not dead, that's the main thing," Bono declined any further interviews. "The story was never me," said Bono, "it was always the guy who drove directly into a 66-year old man crossing at a walk signal, who flew across his windshield, and then driving away, until repeatedly stopped by witnesses." The story, actually, is whether a covert jaywalking inducement policy, launched by an Agency operative, and executed by the spouse of that operative, should remain covert. I, for one, say no--in the Agency's, the streets' and the public interest.