When the Democrats retook Congress in 2006, incoming Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi promised “to restore integrity and honesty in Washington, D.C., and the Democrats intend to lead the most honest, most open and most ethical Congress in history.” So how’s that promise working out? Let’s start with four developments from the past week:
Last weekend, it was revealed that Senate Finance Committee chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., had nominated his girlfriend to be a U.S. attorney in his home state. Baucus is a driving force behind the effort to adopt Obamacare in the Senate.
On Friday, it was reported that the House Ethics Committee opened an investigation of Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee. Staffers on Thompson’s committee say he tried to regulate the credit card industry — outside his panel’s legislative purview — to extort campaign donations from the companies facing regulation.
Pelosi promised to make congressional office expenditures publicly available on the Internet. Concurrent with the appearance of the new Web site detailing the information, the amount of information previously available to the public has been significantly restricted. Pelosi then claimed falsely that this was a victory for transparency.
Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and California Sen. Diane Feinstein offered an amendment to a media shield law that provides legal protections only to professional journalists employed by established mainstream media — a blatant attempt to curb independent, often blog-based reporting such as that of Hannah Giles and James O’Keefe in their hidden camera exposé of ACORN.
Does that sound honest, open and ethical to you? And this is just what happened in the past week. Many other Democratic scandals remain unresolved.
Rep. Charlie Rangel, D-N.Y., is still head of the House Ways and Means Committee — which writes the nation’s tax laws — despite millions of dollars worth of admitted tax evasion. And it’s been exactly 500 days since Senate Banking Committee Chairman Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., promised to release the mortgage paperwork for his Capitol Hill townhouse. Dodd got a sweetheart mortgage deal from the CEO of failed subprime lender Countrywide, which he was supposed to be overseeing. That’s just two more examples.
In 2006, when the Democrats were returned to power by voters, corruption among Republican leaders such as Reps. Duke Cunningham, Bob Ney, Rick Renzi, John Doolittle and Mark Foley was understandably a major issue. Democrats successfully argued in the campaign that GOP corruption was enough to hand the reins of power to a different party.
If held to their own standards, what will Democrats’ argument be for remaining in power in 2010?