Monday, May 22, 2006

Indirect Assistance

The Washington Post gave front-page billing to the investigation of Louisiana Congressman William Jefferson (D). Long and short of it, things are not looking good for the Cajun State's reputation for political integrity (snark).

Republicans are trying to use Jefferson as proof that the culture of corruption is a bipartisan affliction. Paradoxically, though, Noam Scheiber argues that even if Jefferson does go down in flames, it still might hurt Republicans more. He predicts that either that voters won't read the story deep enough to get to Jefferson's party affiliation, or if they do, the effect will be to make corruption a bigger election issue, which can't help Republicans (as Scheiber notes, it is virtually impossible to imagine someone casting a GOP vote to show how fed up they are with Capitol Hill scandal). I'd add that Democrats have shown no inclination to protect Jefferson, providing an excellent contrast to the GOP leadership, which virtually fell over itself to shield Tom DeLay from the blowback of his illicit endeavors.

As to the scandal itself, I'll say this. Jefferson looks like he's guilty, and if he is, I say throw him to the wolves. But the point of the "culture of corruption" attack isn't to say there are no corrupt Democrats. That would be absurd. What's particularly appalling about the type of corruption we've seen in the GOP leadership is how it's been institutionalized. It's not just isolated hacks out for their own gain. It was ingrained in the very mechanics of how politics has been operating on the Hill for the last few years. That's what distinguishes a lone schmuck like Jefferson, and the immense machine of the K Street project.


John Peltier said...

Well said. Democratic corruption isn't written into the party platform.

Anonymous said...

Originally, I thought the idea that Republicans might be hurt more than Democrats was a big stretch - that is until the New York Times: Bush Orders Documents From F.B.I. Raid Sealed

Tom Delay has even voiced opposition to raids (Houston Chronicle). Hmmm, why's that, Tom? In fairness, so did Hastert and Pelosi, which just makes it all the stranger, really... like some political Bizzaro world.