Sunday, November 19, 2006

Twelve Days to the Wheels Coming Off

Promise them anything to get elected, was the obvious Pelosi-ploy, then go back to business as usual and blame the other guys. Until you become the other guys.

Nancypelosi2_1 If it were the Twelve Days of Christmas instead of merely the twelve days since the Democrats finally caught the rabbit of House-Senate control, there would still be no partridge in the Congressional pear tree. Nancy Pelosi, the absolute worst choice for Speaker of the House, couldn’t wait to throw sand in the face of tradition and even-up some perceived scores.
By nominating the ethics-disadvantaged John Murtha for majority whip, by-passing Steny Hoyer for the most personal of reasons, Pelosi showed herself for just what she is. Just what she is, appears to be vindictive, and a Speaker with that baggage won’t bring the much hoped-for bipartisanism to the House of Representatives. Thus, her first official move left her with a resounding defeat within her own party to kick off her version of “the most honest, most open and most ethical Congress in history.”
Repjaneharman Following this slow-roller down the first-base line, that should have (and could have) been a crowd-pleasing homer into the stands, Nancy plans to kick fellow California Democrat Jane Harman from her chairmanship of the House Intelligence Committee for similarly petty concerns. Harman is too intelligent, too photogenic and too sought after by the media. There can be only one female star in Nancy's galaxy. This latest example of Pelosi-pique doesn’t bode well for honesty, openness or ethics.
Neither does the un-prioritizing of all that windy Democratic rhetoric about achieving ethical review, disconnecting lobbyists from legislators and eschewing any special favors from special interests. David Kirkpatrick’s Washington Post article, Democrats Split on How Far to Go With Ethics Law, reports
Senator Dianne Feinstein, the California Democrat who will oversee any proposal as the incoming chairwoman of the Rules Committee, for example, said she was opposed to an independent Congressional ethics watchdog. “If the law is clear and precise, members will follow it,” she said in an interview. “As to whether we need to create a new federal bureaucracy to enforce the rules, I would hope not.”
Sendiannefeinstein Ah—another federal bureaucracy. C’mon, Dianne, an Inspector General assigned to spotting the not-so-furtive Capitol-Hill bagman is hardly a federal bureaucracy. To those of us in the cheap-seats, we bleacher-bums who make up 99% of the voting public, that sounds very much like you think it's time for the Democrats to cash in. You’re unwilling to legislate their heads from the trough.
Other Democratic lawmakers argued that the real ethical problem was the Republicans, not the current ethics rules, and that the election had alleviated the need for additional regulations. “There is an understanding on our side that the Republicans paid a price for a lot of the abuses that evolved,” said Representative Barney Frank, Democrat of Massachusetts, alluding to earmarks. Senator Tom Harkin, an Iowa Democrat and a senior member of the Appropriations Committee, said the scandals of the current Congress were “about the K Street Project for the Republicans,” referring to the party’s initiative to put more Republicans in influential lobbying posts and build closer ties to them.
“That was incestuous from the beginning. We never had anything like that,” Mr. Harkin said of Democrats. “That is what soured the whole thing.”
Repbarneyfrank Sentomharkin Well, there you have it. A mere twelve days after victory and two months before they even take their seats in Congress, the whole scandal-ridden bunch has been magically cleaned up, not by actions, but by the mere fact of the election.
Barney Frank and Tom Harkin are against incest. The thing wasn’t at fault, it was only the souring of the thing. Earmarks and lobbyist pandering of representative government is not the problem—the guys who controlled the earmarks were dirty, unethical Republicans instead of bright, shiny Democrats. Well, I’m glad that’s settled. Nancy Pelosi has certainly proved herself in these opening days to be bright enough and shiny enough to stand above the ethically challenged.
Advocates of an overhaul believe the reaction to the Congressional embarrassments make the Democratic takeover of Capitol Hill their best chance for significant change since the aftermath of Watergate, when Congress created the presidential campaign finance system. But they consider the Democratic proposals just the beginning of a cleanup.
“A ban on gifts, meals, corporate jet flights — a lot of that resonates with the public because people think there is just a lot of free giveaways in Congress,” said Chellie Pingree, president of the ethics advocacy group Common Cause. “A lot of this is sort of skirting the issue of how campaign funds are shaping the legislative process.”
Well, I guess it sort of is, Chellie. Can it be that the president of Common Cause is really that politically naïve?
Promise them anything to get elected, was the obvious Pelosi-ploy, then go back to business as usual and blame the other guys. Until you become the other guys.
This time out, it took just twelve days to become the other guys.
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