Slowly the mainstream media is catching on. The AP tells us startling new information: the Democrats have a corruption problem! Well, yes, of course they do. This has been going on for months now. After all, the Blago story broke before the president took office. What is new is that suddenly the liberal cheerleaders in the MSM (pardon the repetition) are nervous. Gosh, sounds just like 1994 and 2006, doesn’t it?
The AP tells us:
The revelation that Democratic appropriations kingpins may face an ethics investigation of their campaign donations moves Republicans closer to gaining a corruption issue in 2010. …
Democratic Reps. John Murtha of Pennsylvania, Pete Visclosky of Indiana and Jim Moran of Virginia, all members of the money-dispensing House Appropriations Committee, received significant campaign donations from lobbyists from a defunct firm, PMA, and its clients – companies that got money for pet projects.
Their risk is that Republicans will be able to depict them as the personification of corruption, much in the way Democrats portrayed former Majority Leader Tom DeLay of Texas and ex-GOP Reps. Bob Ney of Ohio and Duke Cunningham of California going into the 2006 election. Ney and Cunningham both ended up being sentenced to federal prison.”
Indeed, a week earlier, the New York Times editorial page agitated for just such an ethics investigation. The editors at the Times implored the Democrats not to batten down the hatches:
It is a sordid and far-too-common tale: PMA’s top lobbyists began as House appropriations staffers and then capitalized on their connections and savvy to strike it rich in the private sector. Still the full story needs to be laid out before the public of how this money roundelay worked — from contractor to lawmaker, with the American taxpayer always footing the bill.
And Beltway dean Norman Ornstein has been pleading with Democrats to remember the past. He recounts the congressional ethics stumbles leading up to the 1994 Republican takeover, noting that “a critical element in the public backlash against the status quo in Congress was the populist anger at the elitism and corruption that the public saw engulfing Washington, D.C.” And then he warns:
I raise all this history because it is déjà vu all over again. The populist anger is back, and not just in the United States — the reaction in Britain to parliamentary expense abuses is directly reminiscent of the reaction to the House Bank. So far, it has not been directed at Congress, in part because the 111th Congress has been so remarkably productive, in part because of the popularity of President Barack Obama, in part because of the ineptitude of the minority party leadership. But one can see the train wreck coming.
Some of the seeds go back to former Rep. William Jefferson (D-La.), preceded by Jack Abramoff and former Reps. Duke Cunningham (R-Calif.), Tom DeLay (R-Texas), Bob Ney (R-Ohio), Jim Traficant (D-Ohio), et al. Of course, some of the cases contributed mightily to the Republican loss of Congress after 12 years of rule, but all underscored a continuing public sense that Congress was more concerned with feathering its own nest than with the problems facing average Americans in their everyday lives.
One can quibble that all that activity (spending and borrowing, mainly) has ignited some popular anger as well. But he and the MSM chorus are onto something.
And with the growth of government and the enormous amount of cash sloshing through Washington, the corruption problem is about to get worse. The stimulus money could, according to the FBI, be the breeding ground for its own crime wave. If the experts are right and 10% of the $787B stimulus plan will be lost to fraud and abuse, then $80B worth of graft and the congressmen, officials, lobbyists, and donors with their fingers in the pie will make fodder for plenty of headlines — just in time for the 2010 races.
No wonder the MSM is nervously sounding the alarm. There is the prospect that the age of “liberal dominance” could come screeching to a halt before it’s even gotten up to speed. Not only does it portend an electoral train wreck and loss of a governing liberal majority, but it sheds doubt on the notion that government was the knight in shining armor needed to ride to the rescue when the free market “failed.” If bigger and bigger government gets us more and more crooks and tens of billions in fraud, then maybe there is a better way to go than inflating the size and scope of the federal government.
Republicans need only do three things. First, force vote after vote, reminding the public who is protecting the crooks. Second, continue to make the connection between the programs the Democrats devised (e.g., the stimulus plan) and the corruption we are now witnessing. And finally, make sure their own house is clean.
If they do that much, 2010 may come to resemble 1994 or 2006. Proof once again that the key to reclaiming power is waiting for the other guys to mess up.