How the Dems Can Get Back on Track

Perhaps somebody slipped something into their coffee. Maybe they are intoxicated by victory. But ever since the November election, an outbreak of political foolishness has afflicted the Democrats.

The list of screw-ups is growing.

  1. The president-elect denied he knew anything about what was "happening" with his Senate seat, while Rahm Emanuel, the Obama team's savviest operator, had six or seven (he can't quite recall) conversations with Blago and his chief of staff dickering over lists of candidates (not to mention Emanuel's own House seat).
  2. The Illinois Democrats nixed a special election bill and failed to strip Governor Blagojevich of his appointment power. Now Sen. Harry Reid wants to bar the only African-American senator from that august body.
  3. The Obama team says it was stonewalled by Bill Richardson in the vetting process and did not, apparently, think much of media reports about the burgeoning pay-to-play scandal. So they took him as commerce secretary.
  4. And there could be one more crowning blow as Princess Caroline, lacking a speech coach (you know) or any credentials, may be heading where Roland Burris cannot -- the U.S. Senate.

It is fair to ask: what's wrong with these people? And better yet, it is worthwhile to ask what they can do to halt the self-inflicted wounds.

The Washington Post thinks the problem is money:

The larger question raised by the withdrawal is, as with Mr. Blagojevich, the inevitable problems created by the unseemly intersection of large campaign contributions and even larger government contracts. In Mr. Richardson's case, a California firm, CDR Financial Products Inc., received consulting contracts worth $1.48 million with the New Mexico Finance Authority for advice on transportation bond financing.

In 2003 and 2004, around the time the contracts were awarded, CDR President David Rubin donated about $100,000 to two political committees connected to Mr. Richardson. Both Mr. Richardson and the company say that the two transactions are unrelated. Yet it is nearly impossible to avoid the stench of pay-to-play politics when campaign finance laws allow for large contributions and when those seeking state business are allowed to donate. Mr. Richardson's conduct may have been entirely legal, but his predicament underlines how important it is to change the flawed system of which he has been both beneficiary and victim.

And there is something to the fact that millions of dollars in campaign funding creates either the appearance or the actuality of impropriety. Sen. Chris Dodd's sweetheart mortgage deal and the largess lavished by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae on mainly Democratic Congressmen and Senators charged with oversight, one suspects, are just the most visible examples of special interest groups trying to pull the strings of those in power. Since 2006 those in power have largely been Democrats so that has been where the money has gone. Hence, that's where the scandals are now centered.