The Rule of Law Party

Please forgive this intrusion of politics into a blog that has been exclusively musical lately, but a comment at The Carpetbagger Report, echoing a thought I had already had, deserves as wide circulation as possible. Democratic Representative William Jefferson has been indicted for corruption, and the meme of the day is that corruption in Congress is bipartisan – meaning Jefferson on the Democrat side, Cunningham, Ney, DeLay, Safavian, Libby, Griles, Foggo, Crawford, Foley, Korsmo and quite a few others on the Republican side. And pace those who still insist there’s no significant difference between the parties, the Carpetbagger notes the respective reactions:

Even before the indictment against Jefferson was issued, congressional Democrats spoke out against him, distanced themselves from him, and removed him from power committee assignments. The Democratic leadership made clear they had no tolerance for Jefferson’s alleged crimes, and pivoted off his indictment to introduce a massive new ethics reform measure.

And then there’s the GOP. When Cunningham was exposed, House Republicans defended him. When DeLay was about to be indicted, they considered changing their own rules to let him stay in the leadership. When Ney was investigated, they stood by him. Indeed, the standard Republican strategy was to blame prosecutors, blame the media, make excuses, and defend the accused.

Even now, none of the current lawmakers facing criminal investigations have been ostracized for what appears to be a series of scandalous decisions, while most of the party wants a pardon (amnesty?) for a convicted felon caught lying and obstructing justice in the Plame leak scandal.


  1. Jun-Dai says

    Not that I would want to defend these people, but it’s worth noting that an indictment is not the same as being found guilty of a crime. It’s certainly possible that a congressperson could be indicted for a crime he or she did not commit, in which case it would be a shame if their powers and alliances were stripped away. That said, the Republican tactics of throwing the blame around to the media, prosecution, and opposing party is pretty shameful.
    As for the differences between parties, I like best Noam Chomsky’s assertion that while the difference between the parties is very small, in a system of immense power this small difference can translate to very large outcomes.
    KG replies: I’m rather glad that, for the Democrats, even the appearance of impropriety is enough impetus to remove someone from the limelight. And I wish Tom Delay had been given similar treatment.

  2. says

    As if what you describe isn’t enough, that same party says government is too big and too intrusive yet supports extraordinary rendition in secret prisons beyond the reach of federal law, the unlimited wiretapping of American citizens and the suspension of Habeus Corpus.
    You wonder how long it will be before we are all humming Shostakovich’s 10th symphony.

  3. says

    Regarding the differences between the two parties: I don’t remember who said it — it may have been the essayist and translator Eliot Weinberger, who has translated a lot of Octavio Paz and Borges, among others — but whoever said it, it’s always rung true to me: The Democrats are the equivalent of a European conservative-centrist party, and the Republicans are the equivalent of a European extremist-reactionary party.
    The differences between the two are not small.
    The honor-among-thieves that your post alludes to, Kyle, goes right along with their extremist-reactionary “philosophy”: namely, “us and ours first and crumbs at best for the rest.” And, “laws are for other people.” As evidenced by the movement to free Scooter Libby.