January 27, 2006

SHADEGG FOR MAJORITY LEADER: I won’t call this an “endorsement,” because that’s pretentious. I’m just a blogger, and not somebody in a position to issue endorsements.

But it seems to me that the GOP would be very wise to choose John Shadegg to replace Tom Delay as Majority Leader. Blunt, despite some reformist comments, is basically the candidate of business-as-usual. Boehner seems a bit better, but not tremendously different. Shadegg is the only one who seems like a plausible agent for reform, and it’s going to be hard to persuade people who would like to see the GOP get back to its small-government, clean-Congress 1994 roots that there’s any chance of that if they choose a business-as-usual Majority Leader.

Of course, that’s only a start. As Daniel Henninger makes clear, there’s also a structural problem:

Poll after poll says the public thinks both parties are equally corrupt. It depends, of course, on what the meaning of corruption is. If by corrupt you mean lobbyist sleaze, quid pro quo, the pork barrel, earmarks to nowhere and grossing out even the public’s generally low expectations, then yes, both parties are equally corrupt.

But it gets worse. Congress legislated the system that now exists. Congress planted the seeds back in the ’70s for what is revolting you now with two enactments–the Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974 and the 1974 amendments to the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971. Both were marketed as reforms.

The first law turned political Washington into a trillion-dollar industry camouflaged as the federal budget. The second ensured that sitting members of Congress and K Street lobbyists would become the entrenched management of that industry. Compared to this, Enron is a kindergarten game.

He’s right, and there’s a chapter (entitled “The Big Bang”) in The Appearance of Impropriety that discusses this at considerable length. But it’s also true that to fix this requires people at the top who want to fix it. Shadegg seems much more likely to deliver these results than either Blunt or Boehner.

UPDATE: N.Z. Bear thinks that Shadegg is the guy, too.