One of the most dangerous places on Earth, it has often been remarked, is any space between U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) and a TV camera. So it's not surprising that the overwrought publicity hound is injecting himself into the high-profile soap opera that's playing out over a mobile phone that doesn't always work perfectly, and that he has cranked up his publicity machine to highlight his whiny letter to Steve Jobs.
No, it's not surprising, but it is troubling. Deeply and profoundly troubling.
On the one hand, taken purely at face value, Schumer's latest craven grab for publicity and notoriety is little more than a cheap trick that places him somewhere on the "look at me!" spectrum between Perez Hilton and Jersey Shore Snooki. Indeed, in his blind rush to trivialize both the office he holds and the self-sufficiency of American consumers, Chuck Schumer is the Usmain Bolt of our political times.
And yet, his latest incursion into the operations of the free market is neither funny nor easily waved off as merely the trivial workings of a venal busybody desperately trying to appear relevant. Because if you think Chuck Schumer and other politicians won't use this iPhone 4 kerfuffle as an opportunity to insert themselves deeply, aggressively, and ruinously into the IT business, then you clearly haven't been watching what's happened in healthcare, the automobile industry, the banking business, the insurance industry, the (former) school-loans business, and the mortgage business.
To those of you who may be asking, "Why is this loudmouth nobody columnist dragging his political views into the IT world?", please let me assure you that this supply chain is moving in the exact opposite direction: Chuck Schumer has brought—and would no doubt love to continue to bring—the crushing weight of politics and regulation and oversight and all-powerful bureaucracy into the technology business, which is only the most dynamic, successful, and world-changing industry this country or planet have ever known.
Once a member of the U.S. Senate—and a member who not only craves the spotlight but has amassed staggering power—begins to insert himself into the private sector in ways that have absolutely nothing to do with the Senate's job of crafting legislation, where, then, does it stop?
Here's part of what Schumer said in his letter to Jobs—and please tell me if you detect something of national interest in this swill: