September 29, 2005

Tom Delay Indicted

I am no fan of Tom Delay, so I will likely not post much on the fact that he was indicted yesterday.
The truth is that I have no idea whether or not he committed any crime or whether this is just another example of an over-zealous and partisan prosecutor.
If he did, in fact, commit a crime, then he should be convicted and sentenced accordingly. Does this indictment mean that all Republicans are corrupt? According to Howard Dean, it does:

"Today, the state of Texas is doing what the Republican-controlled federal government has failed repeatedly to do, which is hold Republicans in Washington accountable for their culture of corruption. This alleged illegal activity reaches to the highest levels of the Republican Party.

"With House Republican Leader Tom DeLay under criminal indictment, Senate Republican Leader Frist facing SEC and Department of Justice investigations, and White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove under investigation, the Republican leadership in Washington is now spending more time answering questions about ethical misconduct than doing the people's business."

“Tom DeLay is neither the beginning nor the end of the Washington Republicans' ethical problems. America can do better than leaders who use their power to promote their own personal interests instead of the interests of the American people who elected them. We simply must change the way business is done in Washington."

Do we really want to pretend that governmental corruption is a Republican-only issue? Do you really want to get into that argument? Even Markos at Daily Kos believes that corruption is not a partisan issue:

Some day, once the current GOP dominance collapses under the weight of their corruption, we'll have Dems playing the same dirty game. Republicans rally around their sleaziest bad-government practicioners, as we know the elephant flies above the Stars and Stripes to the typical Bush/DeLay apologist.

The moral imperative behind a "clean government" crusade is self-evident. But there's also a practical reason to oppose corruption even amongst Democrats -- it's a sure-fire way to lose elections. Rampant Democratic corruption cost us Congress in 1994, and we've yet to recover. And continued Democratic corruption has made House Dems wary of charging ahead with the "corruption" theme to hard, lest some of the current members get snared in the web.

According to the Oxford Press, many Democrats are warning Dean to tone down his rhetoric, lest the Democrats come under investigation as well:

Indeed, at the DNC's executive committee meeting here in early June, Dean publicly acknowledged that some congressional Democrats had urged him to tone down his "culture of corruption" rhetoric because they did not want to get caught up in the same ethics probe as DeLay. But Dean said he would not hold back...."

What do the Democrats have to fear? Well, there are definitely some current Democratic corruption issues, according to the Oxford Press:
But in recent months, with Abramoff the subject of a criminal investigation, there have been media accounts and studies by watchdog groups that raise questions about the conduct of Democratic House members:
— The Washington Post reported that Abramoff paid at least a portion of the expenses of Democratic Reps. James Clyburn of South Carolina and Bennie Thompson of Mississippi in the mid-1990s.

— The Associated Press reported that at least 43 House members and dozens of congressional aides failed to publicly report travel financed by special interests until DeLay's trips were scrutinized. Most notably, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland disclosed 12 trips, the oldest dating back to 1997.

— The Center for Public Integrity, a nonpartisan watchdog group, in a study of public records of every congressional trip between January 2000 and mid-2004 sponsored by non-profit organizations, found that seven of the top 10 trip-takers were Democrats.

Currently, New Jersey Democrats have been accused of diverting 9/11 funds for political purposes. What about Congressman Jefferson, the Democrat from New Orleans? What about the AirAmerica scandal?
Moreover, the Democratic track record on political corruption has not been wonderful. For example,
  • Johnny Chung, who was a Democratic Party fund-raiser and frequent White House guest of Bill Clinton, illegally channeled Chinese military money to President Clinton and the Democratic Party.
  • Al Gore is caught fundraising in a Buddhist temple.
  • FBI Filegate.
  • Whitewater.
  • Global Crossing.
  • President Bill Clinton pardons Mark Rich. After the pardon, it is discovered that Mr. Rich's ex-wife is a major contributor to President Clinton and the Democratic Party.

Look, the point is not to slander Democrats or say that they are somehow more corrupt than Republicans. The point is that there is corruption in politics. The idea that this is a Republican-only problem is ridiculous, and Howard Dean should know better. Corruption must be cleaned up on both sides of the aisle.

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