What Rahm Said!

4 comments December 3rd, 2006at 12:13am Posted by Eli

(Did I really just say that???)

Sunday’s NYT lead editorial:

Well before Election Day, the smart-money lobbyists of K Street were already shifting campaign donations to safe Democratic incumbents, greasing access to the next Congressional majority. That should be warning enough to the incoming speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, and Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, to deliver quickly and credibly on their campaign vows to attack the corrupt, quid-pro-quo culture that besotted the Republican-controlled Capitol.

Yet even before the new Congress arrives, there is disquieting talk of advance compromises on what will be done – or not done. It’s fortunate the incoming members will be in the Capitol this week, preparing for January and, not incidentally, observing the lame-duck finale of the Congress that failed on this vital issue.

There will be only one good chance to get this right. Once the new year begins, any feeling of urgency will fade, replaced by a determination to acquire, and protect, whatever power and turf are available.


A field general of the incoming majority, Representative Rahm Emanuel of Illinois, is already warning that failure to deliver on ethics reform will be “devastating to our standing” in the very first moment of Democratic power.

Most of the time, I don’t think Rahm “gets it,” to the point where I think he generally does more harm than good. But he totally Gets It on this issue. The Democrats must absolutely shatter the “both parties do it, all politicians are corrupt” mindset that tars them every time a Republican gets busted. They must forcefully establish themselves as the clean party, the integrity party, especially with corruption playing such a major role in ousting the Republicans. The public demanded a cleanup last month, and the Democrats ignore them at their peril.

And if it costs them some lobbyist money, so what? Their campaigns won’t need as much funding if the voters know the Democrats are morally upstanding straight shooters (and the Republicans not). And surely they’d be willing to trade a few more free meals and trips for improved job security. Not only that, but a more toothsome ethics office gives them a chance to make life miserable for corrupt Republicans, and maybe even expel some of them. Yes, it’s possible some Democrats might get caught up as well, but so be it. The ethics office should treat them fairly, and do whatever the evidence and the rules tell them to do. Again, I think in the long run they would gain far more than they would lose, and we would gain a less corrupt, less corporate Congress.

So please, Democrats, listen to Rahm, just this once. I promise I won’t ask you to do it ever again.

Entry Filed under: Corruption/Cronyism,Democrats,Favorites,Politics


  • 1. Anonymous  |  December 3rd, 2006 at 9:26 am

    Good morning, Eli…

    There are two things I want the Dems to be focusing on: one is clearing the decks so that it is clear from Day One that it is a new and ethical day in the halls of government, and the other is gaming a strategy for dealing with what I expect will be the near total intransigence from the administration to comply with any committee request for documents or testimony related to anything having to do with Iraq or the GWOT.

    If anyone thinks that just because the Dems have the majority the administration is going to roll over and allow itself to be open to the kind of scrutiny and accountability the previous Congress’ failed to exert or demand, they are kidding themselves.


  • 2. Eli  |  December 3rd, 2006 at 9:38 am

    Absolutely right. I would also add election reform to that list, something I’ve been harping on for pretty much as long as I’ve been blogging. Just because the Democrats did well in November, that doesn’t mean that all the problems are magically fixed.

    At a bare minimum (believe me, this is not my entire wishlist), they need to make paper trails mandatory, and pass tough laws against all forms of vote suppression (voter-roll purges, voter intimidation/deception, stealth poll taxes, etc.), and dare Republicans to override that veto and expose their opposition to democracy.

    In addition to giving them the power of majority, their sweep in November also means that the Republicans can’t say this is just sour grapes from the party of losers. It *might* also mean they can peel off some Republicans who think *their* party got jobbed, but I wouldn’t hold my breath on that.

  • 3. Anonymous  |  December 3rd, 2006 at 10:52 am

    Election reform is a must, and I am encouraged that this issue is already being taken up by the states. I really believe that this is a case where all the votes should be cast and counted the same way, and while this would require federal laws to establish those standards, I think it’s imperative that there be uniformity in this process.


  • 4. Eli  |  December 3rd, 2006 at 12:48 pm

    It’d certainly be a lot quicker and more thorough to mandate it at the federal level, rather than waiting for all the states to get on board, since I think a lot of them don’t really want to.

    But this issue has the virtue of being the right thing to do for the country, the right thing to do for the long-term preservation of the Democratic party, and also something that can put the Republicans on the defensive and further tarnish their image if they don’t play ball. So it makes both strategic *and* tactical sense.

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