Tuesday, May 23, 2006

[Dem Corruption]

What to do with William Jefferson.

Oy. Just when you're starting to get a little traction on the whole "culture of corruption" thing, a guy from your own team is filmed stuffing bags of cash (marked with dollar signs?) into the trunk of his car. It matters little that this has nothing to do with institutional practices the GOP have instituted that have turned Congress into a cash enterprise, a place where for a few quid you get a lot of pro. Everyone will recall mainly that he stored $90k of the booty in his fridge, like Tony Soprano.

If Dems are smart (which would be a first), they'd excoriate this guy and use him as a part of their effort to clean up Congress. While the GOP are going to make massive hay about how everyone's doing it, that strategy may not win votes. After all, when Americans are pissed at entrenched power and wanna throw out the bums, the party who is entrenched has a lot more to lose. But Dems have to get ahead of the story and use it as a further example of how the ruling elites in Washington sell lawmaking to the highest bidder. Using one of your own as an example of what's wrong with the system actually gains credibility.

Because the GOP are in fact corrupt, and do in fact take bags of cash to pass legislation (at the back end, of course, legally, in the form of tax cuts and other legislative kick-backs), they have a lot more to lose and will naturally try to block any reform--thus exposing the very culture of corruption they hope to conceal with a coordinated campaign aimed squarely at Jefferson-defending Dems.

So don't defend him.

[Update. Quite a lot of chatter about this. John Cole, a righty who is appalled by the corruption of his erstwhile party, has particularly insightful comments here. The FBI raided Jefferson's office in Washington, an act so baldly partisan it has freaked out even the GOP. See Avedon for some comment on this (she's satisfyingly outraged). As to my suggestion that Dems shouldn't defend Jefferson, Mark Kleiman and Kevin Drum appear to agree.]

6 comments:

KevinHayden said...

I trust most will be repulsed by Jefferson's actions instinctively. It doesn't surprise me that power and money will always corrupt a token number of either side.

What's more important is to total up actual convictions over the past dozen years. Or the past 40 years, if you prefer. Such a tally will display the difference between a solo operator acting on his greed, and the conspirators who promote a culture of partisan corruption.

Charlie Burr said...

If Dems are smart (which would be a first)...

When o when Lord will our national Democratic group therapy session come to an end???

I am unaware of a single Democrat in the country who's defending Congressman Jefferson. If you search, maybe you can find one, but ya gotta admit, one corrupt member from the traditionally corrupt Louisiana doesn't exactly make the corruption issue a draw.

I don't disagree with 90% of your post, but is it really so hard to acknowledge that sometimes Democrats run better, smarter, more sophisticated campaigns with finite resources?

Jeff Alworth said...

I am unaware of a single Democrat in the country who's defending Congressman Jefferson.

Defending isn't the same as excoriating, which I also haven't seen a lot of.

ya gotta admit, one corrupt member from the traditionally corrupt Louisiana doesn't exactly make the corruption issue a draw.

It's a political issue, not a reality-based issue. If you're arguing reality, okay. If you're arguing politics, I don't have to admit anything of the kind. Unless Dems get out in front of this, Jefferson could easily make it a political draw. Remember, John Kerry was a rat-fink coward and medal-thrower.

is it really so hard to acknowledge that sometimes Democrats run better, smarter, more sophisticated campaigns with finite resources?

I'm missing your point here. Many Dems run great campaigns. Rob Brading's running one now; so is Bob Casey. I don't follow. (Which isn't unusual.)

Charlie Burr said...

Some good news: Nancy Pelosi -- the highest ranking Dem in the House -- was very clear that Jefferson should be held fully accountable for his actions here.

I'm missing your point here. Many Dems run great campaigns.

OK, then we agree. And certainly some run lousy campaigns. I wrote this because it's an election year, the culture of corruption is clearly a larger campaign narrative, and the statement you made in your initial post:

If Dems are smart (which would be a first)...

seemed to indicate that Dems were, well, not running a smart campaign....

Jeff Alworth said...

I'm always delighted to be proved wrong, and I know eventually the Dems will get their act together. I haven't posted on the Howard Dean issue because it's insider pool that mostly will cause eyes to glaze, but I think he's really kicking some ass. I love the steps he's taken, and I think they, coupled with some savvy campaigns we saw in '04 and this year, will begin to turn the slow ship of Dem futility around.

It's a blog, so you say provocative, unsubstantiated, inaccurate things. That's why people read!

Anonymous said...

Very nice site!
» »