January 8, 2009


In 2006, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her Democratic colleagues regained congressional control after campaigning against what she famously called a Republican “culture of corruption.” Her description resonated with voters that year and again last fall, when frustration with Republicans helped then-Sen. Barack Obama win the presidency.

Obama won on the promise of cleaner, better government run by Democrats. But a funny thing happened when the 111th Congress opened this week: The Democratic clean-up crew arrived splattered in mud. . . . The taint of infighting and scandals extends well beyond the Chicago Democratic machine. Obama’s nominee for commerce secretary, Democratic Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico, bowed out this week after leaks that a grand jury is investigating a possible pay-for-play scandal in Richardson’s administration.

Accusations of financial impropriety also continue to surface against Rep. Charlie Rangel, D-N.Y., the House Ways and Means Committee chairman being investigated by the House Ethics Committee. Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd, chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, continues to dodge questions about his sweetheart mortgage deal from Countrywide Financial, a company implicated in the nationwide mortgage collapse. And several other Democratic congressmen are facing media scrutiny for suspicious financial deals and earmarking practices. . . .

Given how poorly many of our national political leaders handle the perks and purse strings they already control, we should think twice before giving them free rein to exponentially expand government and manage even more of our money. At a time when a $1 trillion stimulus package barely raises eyebrows inside the Beltway, it’s worth remembering that no political party or leader is immune from the temptations that accompany absolute power. And no populace is as vulnerable to granting that absolute power as one racked by fear and seeking a savior.


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