"Do You Know Who I Am"?
Ginger Gibson and John Breshnahan of Politico explain why Bob Menendez may survive being accused of having sex with underage Dominican girls. "In New Jersey, that may not be enough to topple the Hudson County political boss, who runs the political machine for a part of Jersey known for being rough and tumble and who easily won reelection last year."
Democratic former Sen. Robert Torricelli, who left the Senate a decade ago under his own ethics cloud. “I think Bob Menendez is a very tenacious person, and he has the advantage of six long years and a fairly forgiving political environment in New Jersey.
“I wouldn’t be wasting time on a Bob Menendez political obituary,” he added.
Other reasons they give include:
1. Menendez is the "lead Democratic Hispanic voice on immigration reform in the Senate"
2. Top Senate Democrats, including Majority Leader Harry Reid, are backing Menendez.
3. His good buddy "Dr. Melgen and his family have donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to Democratic candidates and committees, including $700,000 last year to Majority PAC, a Democratic super PAC that spent nearly $600,000 on Menendez’s successful reelection campaign last year."
4. New Jersey is "a sophisticated electorate that is very focused on policy issues".
5. "Menendez has survived previous ethics controversies, which leads many in New Jersey to believe he will get through this one as well".
6. A Republican somewhere, sometime in the past must have also done it.
Those are convincing arguments.
The bottom line is: "New Jersey political insiders tell POLITICO that even if it is proved Menendez had sex with prostitutes, he can survive that hit politically. Menendez wouldn’t even be the first sitting senator to weather a prostitution scandal; Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) admitted in 2007 that he had called a D.C.-based prostitution ring. Vitter, however, did not admit to having sex with prostitutes and the Senate Ethics Committee did not investigate the matter." Maybe they'll find some way for Dr. Megelen (a name susceptible to anagramming) to take the fall for this fine upstanding public servant.
Then the public can turn to relatively unimportant matters like Syria's attempts to transfer nerve gas and missiles to Hezbollah. That resulted in an Israeli attack on a Syrian facility and rising tensions in the region of which more in another post. One might think this is more important than petty Washington politics but as Barry Rubin notes, maybe not.
The reason he's so scared today is because the recent crop of political leaders is so corrupt, inept and cynical that he shudders to think about whether they are even in to lunch. It's not so much Hezbollah that worries Rubin, it's whether there's anyone in Washington who can handle Hezbollah. Or al-Qaeda, China, or Russia.
Why Chuck Hagel is Really So Scary: He’s Typical of the Current Rulers? ... Can you imagine the kind of mentality that would put the lives of hundreds of thousands of American soldiers and the national security of the country in the hands of a man like Hagel? ... There is a deep malady of ignorance and very bad ideas in the American foreign policy leadership and it has lost the correction mechanisms of criticism from the mass media and academia. Hagel is really rather typical of this group but just not adept at pretending otherwise.
The incoming secretary of defense may be many things and yet still be many cuts above Robert Menendez. And to compare the two -- whatever you think of Hagel -- is probably doing a disservice to Hagel. But the two are going to work together since Menendez is slated to head the senate foreign relations committee. One can guess the senator knows a great deal about foreign relations already, though not in the way you would think.
Rubin's larger point though is exactly on target. Nominating people as damaged as this is going to have real world consequences. Not consequences in the partisan political sense, but in the more fundamental sense that they'll allow bad things to happen from stupidity, cupidity or simple indolence. These individuals: Menendez, Napolitano, Hagel, Jarrett, Obama -- and until recently Hillary Clinton -- are the last line of defense not just of the United States but of world security.
If you wouldn't trust Menendez and Dr. Megelen with your daughter then why would you trust them with your life? Because we are, in a sense, doing exactly that. They have the power; the keys to missiles, the power to print money, the writing of the drone list. They won. Jonathan Swift once remarked that "when a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him". That is slightly wrong to-day. It should be rewritten as "when a true scumbag appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the papers declare him politically invincible."