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David Harsanyi
David Harsanyi
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New Faces but Few Changes


How is it that most ordinary citizens can survive an entire lifetime without experiencing the thrill of a grand jury indictment or the shadow of an ethics investigation?

Well, congratulations! And if you're curious, feel free to live vicariously through your elected official.

It's true that by 2006, Republicans had infested D.C. with shifty and corrupt swindlers, and the party paid the price by handing Congress over to Democrats.

Remember Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi promising a new age of principled government in 2006? "The American people voted to restore integrity and honesty in Washington, D.C.," she claimed, "and the Democrats intend to lead the most honest, most open and most ethical Congress in history."

Naturally, it was pure bunk.

As a social conservative ogling at underage congressional pages, Mark Foley was the poster boy for rank hypocrisy. Turns out his successor, Democrat Tim Mahoney — "Restoring America's Values Begins at Home" went the campaign slogan — evidently has been keeping the torch of sexual infidelity aloft.

Now, no one wants to be accused of sexual McCarthyism — your dalliances are your own business unless, that is, you happen to be widestancing in the bathroom stalls of the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport — but it seems that Mahoney may have used taxpayer dollars to hide his extracurricular activities.

While infinitely less creepy than Foley's offense, the fundamental difference between the two incidents seems to be the level of media coverage.

No worries. Rahm Emanuel, chairman of the Democratic Caucus, had, according to an ABC News source, "been working with Mahoney to keep the matter from hurting the candidate's re-election campaign." Isn't it heartening to see congressional priorities firmly in place in this new age of ethical government?

Let's face it; after more than two years of rule, this Democratic Congress has been just as bitterly divided, just as malicious, just as unproductive, just as ethically challenged as the one it inherited.

Take Rep.

Barney Frank, who was involved romantically for years with a high-ranking executive at Fannie Mae while serving on the House Financial Services Committee — where he coddled and helped expand the lending practices that, in part, brought about the mortgage crisis.

Forget an investigation; Frank is now the chairman of the Financial Services Committee.

Frank, in fact, is working closely with the chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, Chris Dodd, who not only was the beneficiary of a "VIP" mortgage from a pre-bankrupt Countrywide (not available to the public) but also is the largest recipient of campaign cash from both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

But it's nothing to get excited about. There's worse.

You see, the legislator in charge of writing national tax code, Democratic Rep. Charlie Rangel, doesn't even know how to pay taxes. The House congressional ethics committee is probably so busy sorting out Rangel-related issues it doesn't have time for much else.

Rangel, the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, apparently forgot about that villa in the Dominican Republic (claiming, laughably, that a language barrier kept him from paying up). He also is accused of abusing his rent-controlled apartments, doling them out to his family, and other tax-related problems.

We all slip up sometimes. We don't all run powerful committees. And if we did, we may have the decency to step down. Not Rangel.

It is instructive to note that the week Democratic Rep. William Jefferson faces 16 charges, including bribery, racketeering, fraud, money laundering, yada, yada, yada is the week Republican Sen. Ted Stevens is wrapping up his own trial on corruption charges.

Both Democratic and Republican lawmakers have lined up to vouch for the unimpeachable honesty of Stevens.

It's nice to see bipartisanship at work. You know, on the important issues.

David Harsanyi is a columnist at The Denver Post and the author of "Nanny State." Visit his Web site at To find out more about David Harsanyi and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at




1 Comments | Post Comment
Sir;....I would take issue with the point you make that the House democrats are as bad as the republicans. No one can measure an inch a mile away. It is not the people who are corrupt, but the institution which is corrupt. I would say the same of morality, that it is not individuals who are moral, but societies, and people become moral in accepting the morality of their society, and so, cannot be considered as moral and as individuals. The house by its nature is immoral and corrupt, and anyone joining that society leaves their old society behind. Now; is that necessary? Not in the least. The house was designed to be democratic, and representative of small numbers. No sooner had the government been accepted than the loop hole left for the house was crawled through. It was written as no more than one representative for every thirty thousand. The number of members in the house was held for a time, and finally fixed for the ease of the house. This was corrupting..... It is corrupting because it makes a sellers market for the house, like the Senate. It is corrupting because the Constitution says nothing about government being easy or manageble for the representatives. It should not be easy, and certainly no easier than the lives of the citizens. Government is supposed to lead us to perfect union. It is the huge numbers, approaching fifty percent in any district who are unrepresented or represented against their desire that is the greatest single cause of house corruption. Not one of those reps can say yes on any subject without saying no to vast numbers that they cannot possibly represent. I would argue that none of them has the right to speak on any subject not affecting their voters, and that is corrupting too. But the absolute worst situation is to have so many unrepresented. We expect civility from government. We should not. We should expect they will lead us into civility, and use their places to fight, argue, and work to resolve our diffences and find points of agreement. If the 49% in any district who did not get their choice were instead represented along with the majority, then you would double the minds, and the ideas present, along with the principals of those people. If there were one representative for every thirty thousand citizens, the rep would be on a short leash. He would be a member of his community accepting the common morality. His power would not be so great as to bring up the price of his vote. And he would have very little difference of opinion in his district to hide behind.... Last night in the last debate we heard people argue over abortion. Well, the president of the U.S. represents a divided district indeed, so he must decide. But neither of these senators said: I defer to the people. It is the people who need their votes delivered intact to Washington. These politicians are called leaders. They are not leaders. They should follow the will of their people, and if they cannot, they should resign. But then, it should be possible to follow that will, and as much as possible to have a united district sending reps with a near unanimity of consent. We need small numbers of people in small districts sending armies of representatives to Washington. Then, the house could lead both the Senate, or the President, as it should be. This bad government is the result of democracy denied, and that is immoral. Where is the representative moral enough to vote himself less power to represent better his community???..Thanks...Sweeney
Comment: #1
Posted by: James A, Sweeney
Thu Oct 16, 2008 5:05 AM
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