Where there is government there is scandal. It’s inevitable. Although it may seem that every new day brings an unprecedented amount of scandal, unresolved government corruption, or backroom deals, really nothing has changed. Since the founding of our nation, the American form of government has served as a beacon for freedom and integrity. Despite this, we have not been impervious to individuals who have bent rules and bypassed regulations while attempting to promote themselves or their cause.
In the light of the IRS scandal and the hearings currently taking place in Congress, it is easy for one to become discouraged by thinking that government corruption is at all-time highs and our country is irreversibly damaged. However, through my recent studies of the presidents while researching for my new book Our Presidents Rock, I have found that scandals have plagued the presidency and our government for centuries — literally.
Beginning with Thomas Jefferson. I mean, talk about documents “magically disappearing” from … well, it was a desk back then and not a desktop. Jefferson’s actions were definitely for partisan purposes. Right before President John Adams left office, he hurried to appoint as many Federalists to federally appointed positions as possible (in hopes of balancing out his successor’s Democrat-Republican beliefs). But not all the appointments were mailed before his leave of office, resulting in a stack of appointments remaining in the “outbox” on his successor’s desk. When Jefferson and Secretary of State James Madison stumbled over these sealed and stamped envelopes, they decided it was in the best interest of their partisan plan to not mail them. Hence their disappearance. The forthcoming Supreme Court Case, Marbury v. Madison, led to Chief Justice John Marshall’s (ironically, Jefferson’s cousin and arch-rival) landmark decision of constitutional review. And we think that disappearing emails/letters is a modern-day occurrence. If only.
However, many will argue that today’s scandal is different: there is no proof yet that the president was involved; this is just a case of a wayward and unrestrained government agency. At this, Ulysses S. Grant would roll over in his grave.