May 23, 2007

Failing On The Culture Of Corruption Twice Over

All we heard from the Democrats during the 2006 midterm elections was how the Republicans had created a "culture of corruption". The GOP left itself open to those charges, without a doubt, by their profligate spending and individual cases of actual corruption, such as Bob Ney and Randy "Duke" Cunningham. Of course, the Democrats had William "Dollar Bill" Jefferson and Alan Mollohan, but they promised that all lobbyist influence and vote payoff systems would screech to a halt under Democratic management of Congress.

Yesterday gave us two examples of how the Democrats will fulfill this campaign pledge. First, the new Congress still can't get its own members to support even watered-down ethics legislation:

After scrapping most key elements of an ethics package meant to deliver on Democratic promises to bring unprecedented accountability to Congress, party leaders were still working into the night yesterday to sell their stripped-down bill to the rank and file.

With a vote on the bill slated for tomorrow, leading Democrats were fighting yesterday to keep its meatiest remaining piece, a provision unmasking the lobbyists behind bundles of contributions delivered to lawmakers.

But even that faced significant opposition from conservative "Blue Dog" Democrats and members of the Congressional Black Caucus. ...

Resistance springs from a sea change in the business of politics in recent years. Nearly half of the members of Congress who left office between 1998 and 2004 became lobbyists, according to a study by watchdog group Public Citizen. That lure, combined with spiraling campaign costs and lawmakers' reluctance to reveal any links to K Street, have cooled enthusiasm for the lobbying disclosure bill, even as investigations stemming from lobbyist Jack Abramoff's influence peddling continue.

Why don't they want to reveal the bundling lobbyists? Because they want the money. CBC member Sanford Bishop has been tasked with rounding up votes in the caucus, but he's finding it a tough slog. Bishop says members want ethics reform, but not at the expense of campaign contributions, which is somewhat akin to endorsing traffic lights but not tickets for violations.

Rahm Emanuel still believes that he can get the votes to make the ethics bill meaningful. He and Marty Meehan want to offer amendments for everything that the Democrats had to strip out of the bill to get even the meagre support they've received, but that seems like a long shot for success. Even the party leader on pork, John Murtha, calls the bill "total crap".

And he should know. Last night, the Democrats failed to hold him accountable for an egregious ethics violation, one in which he threatened to punish a Republican for challenging a pork project in Murtha's district:

House Democrats spared Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.) from a parliamentary slap on the wrist by defeating a resolution aimed at reprimanding him for allegedly threatening to revoke another lawmaker’s earmarks.

Democrats successfully killed the privileged resolution by a vote of 219-189 as Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.) joined Democrats to table the motion while Democratic Reps. Earl Blumenauer (Ore.) and Jim Cooper (Tenn.) voted with the Republicans. Thirteen lawmakers voted present. ...

During the vote, several Democratic lawmakers joked and laughed with Murtha as they sat in the so-called Pennsylvania corner of the House floor.

Why bother to even pass this ethics bill? Democrats have conclusively shown that they won't hold their own members accountable for violating the current set of ethics rules. Dana Milbank expands in his inimitable, snarky fashion:

Apparently, the credulous Rogers took seriously the quaint provision in the Code of Official Conduct stating that a member "may not condition the inclusion of language to provide funding for a Congressional earmark . . . on any vote cast by another member." "There's not going to be any more go-along-to-get-along, 1950s-style American politics around here," Rogers told The Post's Jonathan Weisman. "I've had enough."

Maybe Rogers has had enough, but it is the considered sense of the House that the "go-along-to-get-along" method has merit.

The Democrats haven't even spent their first six months in power before reneging on their campaign promises. The culture of corruption is alive and well, just under different management. John Murtha reigns supreme over earmarks, and woe betide the Congressman of either party that dares to cross him.

That's what America wanted when it put Democrats in charge, right? And note that they still haven't delivered a single item on their 100-hour legislative agenda. They're not just a Do-Nothing Congress; they're also a See-Nothing, Say-Nothing Congress.

David All explores specific broken promises and reveals some Murtha financial connections to his defenders in the House.


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Comments (6)

Posted by Diffus | May 23, 2007 8:55 AM

Rachel Lucas said it best in one of the inaugural posts in her revived blog ([html][/html]: They (politicians, Republican and Democrat). Are. All. The. Same.

Posted by Lightwave | May 23, 2007 11:20 AM

This Congress may in fact have set a record for futility, sophistry, and cynicism along with the worst actual legislative record of all time. Democrats and the GOP are NOT the same...the Democrats have proven themselves far worse in only the space of what, four months?

So far we've seen zero action on any of the campaign promises they spouted in November. The 'first 100 hours" legislation in the house? DOA in the Senate, to be used as poker chips at best.

The "most ethical Congress?" A complete joke. They are even more corrupt than the GOP's worst offenders, who I might add stepped down or were removed from office. Yet Nancy, Harry, and the crew are still in office along with Dollar Bill Jefferson, John Murtha, and a score of other suspects.

How about "bringing the troops home?" Nothing but useless political pandering. In the end they collapsed and took up the GOP position. The nutroots are calling for blood and the Democratic Party won't survive.

So again, why are the Democrats in charge? They haven't kept a single promise. They spouted nothing but feel good rhetoric to get elected, and they've done precisely nothing since getting control of Congress.

Granted, that's a good thing: Now that everybody sees how useless the Democrats are, in 08 the GOP will be back in charge. Given the Dems' track record on national security, the economy and the war, that's vital for America. We're at a point now where the the Dems' Socialism Lite will cost trillions more than the Iraq War ever did, at the time we can least afford it both financially and from a security standpoint.

Discouraged GOP voters put the Dems in charge. Discouraged Dem voters will put the GOP back in charge, but now is the time to start mobilizing and not taking this for granted.

Millions of voters out there are still under the impression that we can simply leave Iraq whenever and that the War on Terror will vanish like a soap bubble. Those bubbleheads vote Democrat. They must be countered in '08.

Posted by yugan | May 23, 2007 3:18 PM

good post ed. they are all a bunch of money grabbing stuffed suits. i just hope that people like you bring those issue to public discourse irrespective of their parties. i feel you were/are not troubled by corruption in politics. you are just troubled by hypocrisy of democrats.

Posted by Joe Helgerson | May 23, 2007 3:52 PM

Ed, get off your anti-democrat jihad. You search the skies high and low to find fault with the dems while your own party has us stuck in Vietnam Part 2. Ethics reform would be grand but how about American kids getting blown up in a CIVIL WAR? Why don't you talk about Bush being a fool to keep us there. Quit acting like another Rush-wannabe, its beneath you.

Posted by Captain Ed | May 23, 2007 4:00 PM


Wow, that's exceedingly lame. I write on a variety of topics, including the war. When you can't answer the criticism in one topic, you demand that I stop writing about it. I'll just assume that's a tacit admission that I'm right about this one.

Posted by Palamas | May 23, 2007 4:27 PM

They're not just a Do-Nothing Congress; they're also a See-Nothing, Say-Nothing Congress.

God, I wish they were the "Say-Nothing" Congress. I'm so tired of listening to Pelosi and Reid, Schumer and Murtha I could scream.