About that culture of corruption ...

As approval ratings for George W. Bush and his Congressional cohorts have plunged, there's been a sense of giddiness in some corners of the leftisphere.

I'd call it irrational exuberance.

I hope I'm wrong, but I think the Democrats face a big challenge pushing their "culture of corruption" narrative: namely, they're knee-deep in it.

They might overcome that problem with some bold legislative proposals for cleaning up even just some small parts of a broken system. But the Dems seem loathe to offer anything that would really shake up the status quo.

Democratic leaders appear to be banking on the American public taking them at their word when they say they're for clean government. But on what are they basing that belief?

According to a poll by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner (that I wrote about back in May):


There is a crisis of confidence in the Republican direction for the country. Voters have turned against the Republicans' priorities and major policy initiatives, the arrogance and style of governance, and complacency before the country's major problems. Voters are poised to turn against the leaders of the "Washington mess" … [but they] have not yet turned to the Democrats as an instrument of change.
A Democracy Corps study released at the same time found that despite "the dramatic changes in the image of the Republicans," the Dems have dropped right along with them "on some specific indicators, including trust and change and reform."

Americans are suspicious and have every right to be.

We can go to town on Jack Abramoff, but let's not forget that Senators Tom Harkin and Byron Dorgan - both popular Dems - threw fundraisers in Abramoff's skybox in Washington's MCI Center and both took donations from Abramoff's clients among the Choctaw Indians.

We can condemn the Republicans for bowing down to big business with bankruptcy "reform," pork-laden energy bills and the like, but Dems keep crossing over to vote for each and every one. Who can forget the reports of Representative Jim Moran (D-VA) receiving a "standing ovation from lobbyists and a word of thanks from the Speaker," for lobbying his fellow Dems to vote for the industry-authored Central American Free Trade Agreement.

Want to talk about cronyism? Want to talk war-profiteering? Our Republican friends need only answer: 'what about Dianne Feinstein?' Her husband, Richard Blum, is director of URS, a firm that landed a $600 million defense contract in 2003.

According to blogger Peter Byrne, "In 2001, URS enjoyed a mere $169 million in defense contracts. Now, its war contracts total more than $2 billion." He adds:
Hubby holds a controlling interest in another engineering firm, Perini Corporation of Framingham, Mass. Perini ranks No. 6 by dollar amount in war-related government contracts in the Middle East. According to its annual report, "Perini proudly supports the U.S. government with global rapid response capabilities for defense, reconstruction and security." Perini builds military facilities and roads in Afghanistan, electrical infrastructure in Iraq and U.S. embassies around the world.
Want to talk about the squeeze being put on organized labor by this administration? So do I. But I don't see it coming from Presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton. After all, not only did she serve seven years on Wal-Mart's board but, according to The Village Voice:
… the Clintons depended on Wal-Mart's largesse not only for Hillary's regular payments as a board member but for travel expenses on Wal-Mart planes and for heavy campaign contributions to Bill's campaigns . . .
Tom Daschle was asked during an on-line chat last week, "What can be done to ensure … accountability [from our public officials] and to regulate their actions?"

His answer:
I think that there has to be far more ethics committee oversight involving members of congress. It has gotten to be too much of a club. There should also be greater oversight of the administration by Congress through an aggressive committee process. This isn't a matter of writing new law as much as it is enforcing the laws that already exist.
Very weak and sad. Of course Daschle, who by all accounts is a good, honest Dem, doesn't want to change any of the fundamentals: he just landed a sweet consulting gig with Alston and Bird, a high-octane lobbying firm that pimps for Big Pharma.

Unfortunately, I could go on. But you get the picture.

Now, maybe someone more sophisticated than myself can tell you why all of that shouldn't count against Democrats. Or maybe we're just not supposed to know these things. But they can always be brought to our attention on Fox if need be.

Which is why, looking forward to the next election cycle, what I want is some meat with those potatoes. I'm not a hopeless idealist, and I'm not holding my breath until the Dems clean up their act.

But combine the rhetoric with a few real reform proposals, and you just might have something. Let's start with clean elections and finally closing that revolving door.

Blathering on about the "culture of corruption" without offering any substantive solutions is a self-limiting stratagem. Remember that even though the Republicans of the Gingrich revolution quickly abandoned most of their "Contract with America" promises, at least they had some policies that sounded like they might bring about real reform.

Where are ours?







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