Monday, September 3, 2007

Update: Why Scandals Hurt Republicans, Not Democrats

Something I hadn't considered, in my recent post about the Craig scandal and resignation: Republican voters hold their candidates to higher standards. Democrats expect their politicians to be crooks, as long as they provide pork for the hometown constituents. From a column by Jack Kelly in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: bias is not the main reason why Republicans suffer more from scandals. Democratic voters expect Democrats to steal on their behalf. Lawmakers are judged on the basis of how many goodies from the federal treasury they can shower on their constituents. The typical Democratic voter doesn't mind terribly if their senator or congressman takes something for himself along the way. (Time Magazine's story on Rep. Mollohan's re-election was headlined, "Pork Trumps Scandal.")

The typical Republican voter wants his senator or congressman to keep his taxes low, his government honest. He is furious when GOP lawmakers stick their fingers in the cookie jar, or give lip service to values they do not practice.

Republicans must be squeaky clean to win elections because their voters will crucify them for behavior Democratic voters wink at so long as the pork keeps flowing. This is why his GOP colleagues already have stripped Sen. Craig of his committee assignments, and many have called for his resignation, while Democratic senators are comfortable having among them a man who left to drown in his automobile a young woman with whom he was having an extramarital affair. (Bold mine).

Well, that explains a lot, doesn't it? The facts clearly seem to bear this out. Here's a list of corrupt Democrats who've been reelected despite being under an ethical cloud, shall we say:

  • Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-WV) is the target of a federal investigation, was forced (by Republicans) to step down from the ethics committee last year but was reelected in November.
  • Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA) was the target of a 2-year federal bribery investigation, had $90,000 in bribe money found in his freezer, and was still reelected last November.
  • Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) was involved in the ABSCAM scandal, also apparently steered millions in federal funding to companies that were clients of his brother's lobbying firm. He was also reelected in November.
  • Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA) found guilty in civil court of leaking an illegally recorded phone conversation to the media in March 2006. He too, was reelected last November.
  • Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) linked to countless scandals, was reelected last November.
  • Governor Rod Blagojevich (D-IL), linked to countless scandals, was reelected last November.

Update: Mark R. Levin at National Review Online:

There is indeed a culture of corruption, and it extends well beyond any single politician. It swirls around big government. It always has and it always will. It has become institutionalized in many ways. And that culture of corruption celebrates clever word games used by unelected judges to exercise power they don’t have as they rewrite the Constitution; it demeans people of faith who speak out against the culture of corruption and for — dare I say — family values; it undermines and seeks to demoralize Americans in uniform as they fight a horrible enemy on the battlefield; it demonizes entrepreneurs and successful enterprises; it uses race, age, religion, gender, and whatever works to balkanize Americans; and so on. This is the real culture of corruption. Let’s call it what it is — modern liberalism. And its impact on our society is far worse than the disorderly-conduct misdemeanor to which Larry Craig pled guilty and for which he has now resigned.
(Bold mine).

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