November 29, 2005
Those "Corrupt" Republicans
As Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-CA) blubbered out a confession yesterday to accepting bribes large enough to intrigue the publishers of the Guiness Book of World Records, Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) pounced like a cat on catnip:
"This offense is just the latest example of the culture of corruption that pervades the Republican-controlled Congress, which ignores the needs of the American people to serve wealthy special interests and their cronies," Ms. Pelosi said in a statement.
Brace yourselves for a cold blast of truth: Pelosi is technically right -- but in the larger sense, she's wrong.
She is almost certainly correct that there are more corrupt Republicans in Congress today (even as a percent of membership) than Democrats. Why? For the simple reason that Republicans are in charge. Back when the Democrats ran the joint, they were the corrupt ones, from Dan Rostenkowski to Tom Foley to Tom Daschle to Bill Clinton (Marc Rich ring any bells, Sen. Hillary?) Of the "Keating Five" senators, four were Democrats: Alan Cranston (D-CA); Dennis DeConcini (D-AZ); John Glenn (D-OH); and Don Riegle (D-MI). (The only Republican was John McCain from Arizona. Heh.)
Do we detect a pattern here? Let's reason this through. Suppose you're a corrupt businessman or foreign politician or fugitive from justice, and you think a little judicious squeeze will help your case. You have some significant lettuce to spread around. How much of it do you plan to give to pathetic, powerless losers like Harry Reid (D-Las Vegas), Nancy Pelosi (D-Baghdad By the Bay), and John F. Kerry (D-Hyannisport)? Wouldn't it be a little more rational to extend the largess to the folks who can actually steer the car, rather than just sit in the back seat and bitch about the driving?
That said, Pelosi is also wrong: there is no indication that the Republicans are any more corrupt than were the Democrats when they were in charge; in fact less, but probably only because the GOP hasn't been in power long enough to really institutionalize corruption, the way the Democrats in the House did in their decades of rule. There is no distinctively Republican "culture of corruption;" the culture of corruption attends whoever sits in the big chair, has the biggest staff, and the office with a view of the Capitol Mall -- not a view of the garbage dump.
It's power, not party, that corrupts.
And of course, much of the so-called Republican "corruption" isn't corrupt by the normal meaning of the word (payoffs, kickbacks, bribes and suchlike): Tom DeLay stands (falsely) accused, not of accepting bribes, but of bypassing campaign finance reform laws to get around Democratic gerrymandering; Bill Frist is under investigation for the sale (by a blind trust) of stock that he already owned; and Lewis "Scooter" Libby was indicted for lying about having told reporters that the wife of disgraced former ambassador Joe Wilson worked for the CIA. None of these fits the classic definition of corruption, which requires accepting money for performing favors.
So the next time your wiseguy coworker smirks about those "corrupt" Republicans, instead of launching into a three-hour peroration on the baselessness of the charges against DeLay and Frist and the overexpanded reach of the special counsel in the "Leakgate" probe, just grin and say, "of course! Who the hell's going to bribe the losing candidate?"
Hatched by Dafydd on this day, November 29, 2005, at the time of 3:13 PM
TrackBack URL for this hissing: http://biglizards.net/mt3.36/earendiltrack.cgi/269
The following hissed in response by: Jack Tanner
That would be Kennedy not Kerry - Kerry is (D-Sun Valley)
The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh
Dude, that's the joke. Sock puppet.
Haven't you followed JFK's obsession with JFK (and the JFKlets)?
The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh at November 30, 2005 12:42 PM
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