Ma Barker's Apple PieWhen Democrats won new congressional seats in the midterms, they did it with promises to break the culture of corruption. It was a powerful message, resonating with voters impatient with a long string of convictions, indictments, and suspicious deals that didn't pass the smell test. As expected, aggressive oversight is uncovering additional details and whiffs of new scandals are seeping like methane to the surface.
The Circle is Unbroken
The circle, apparently, remains unbroken.
Anyone, other than the most vehement party dittohead, sees the culture of corruption as an equal opportunity Graftapalooza. It has plenty of room for charlatans and cheats of any stripe. Democrat stacks of cash in freezers are every bit as egregious as Republican yachts furnished with expensive antiques. In a political culture greased by money, it's no wonder so many politicians line up at the lard bucket for a good slathering.
However, the Democrats are falling far short on their campaign promises. A depressing tidbit on NPR's Marketplace shows one reason why - Nancy Pelosi charges $28,500 per couple for a private howdy-do. It's distressing that lobbyists apparently travel in couples, but even more distressing that 28-large is a new record for political papal payola. Other Democratic leaders are following suit. It's true the open-pocketed Dems claim nobody is buying special favors with the 28K rubber chicken dinners, but that was lame when Denny Hastert and Tom Delay said it and lame when Bubba Bill used to sell "no special favor sleepovers" in the Lincoln Bedroom too.
All Bull, No Pulpit
Both sides complain about the need for lobbyist money to run campaigns. Okay, they have a valid point. Three years of endless primary campaigns, an endless sting of attack ads, and Straight Talk Express bus rentals ain't cheap. The days of a poli-loon standing on a free soap box preaching his screed in the public square is long gone. It might be a good thing if the bully pulpit was equipped with an actual bull. The speeches would be shorter, producing a much more attractive cost/benefit ratio for all.
Clearly, we're all locked into the same vicious cycle. The lobbyists lay out the cash ("But heavens, only through the goodness of my heart. I'd never ask a favor of you Congressman"). The pols gladly accept the palm-greasing and a golf trip to St. Andrews for listening to the lobbyist so patiently ("Policy wonks are soooo boring! My head kept pitching into the caviar"). And the electorate decries the shakedowns inevitably funded by their tax money ("Damn crapweasel politicians!). The lobbyists never seem to consider just proposing good ideas that don't require graft for enactment. The pols never seem to grasp that attack ads and rock-star tour buses aren't really essential parts of the democratic process. And the electorate? They figure it's someone else's responsibility to take back their recalcitrant parties and force the crapweasels' feet to the fire of campaign finance reform.
It's the American Way
Our way of voting simply reflects the values of our country. As capitalists, we believe in the power of money, especially when we get a little sumpn', sumpn' for ourselves. Our political process simply shows the power of an unfettered, unregulated market. The market trickles the graft at the top down to the lower levels of society in the form of higher orders for business jets and titanium golf clubs that generate jobs which a consultant will propose outsourcing to India, which pays more graft to keep the whole shebang humming along smoothly.
It's a system as American as apple-pie and motherhood....provided your mother was Ma Barker.
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Thursday, March 22, 2007