September 19, 2006
The Death of OutrageBy Bob Weir
In the category of 'some people never learn,' a Republican Congressman agreed to plead guilty to illegally accepting tens of thousands of dollars in bribes, giving him the dubious distinction of being the first U.S. lawmaker convicted in the Jack Abramoff political corruption scandal. Ohio Rep. Bob Ney agreed to a plea deal in order to receive a reduced sentence.
For more than a year, Ney had denied any wrongdoing in the massive corruption probe. Now that a deal is in place to let him off with 27 months in prison, Ney pled guilty to conspiring to commit multiple official acts for lobbyists in exchange for campaign contributions, meals and luxury travel, sports tickets and gambling chips.
The Congressman, in what has too often become a sympathy evoking ruse when someone gets caught with his hand in the till, has checked into an alcohol rehabilitation clinic. Is he trying to insinuate that he was drunk every time he took money or gifts? Was he staggering to his seat in the House when he voted the way lobbyists paid him to vote? How about the following day; was he not sober enough to realize that he was corrupt? Does he want us to believe that he was continuously drunk for all the years he sold his soul for a buck?
Boehner's response was, sadly, commonplace in politics today. Instead of indignantly saying that his colleague disgraced himself and his office and should be removed immediately, his answer was nothing more than a pathetic display of party bias.
What? The Congressman has admitted to being a crook! This guy is going to prison on a plea deal like some purse—snatching street thug! And a leader of one of the most powerful legislative bodies in the world says it's a decision that the crook will make?
Furthermore, what is this nonsense about making mistakes?
When someone gets caught robbing a 7/11, can he say it was because he made a mistake? Does that mean that he really meant to rob a McDonald's?
According to Alice Fisher, Assistant Attorney General,
When Congressman William Jefferson, a Louisiana Democrat, got caught with 90 grand in bribe money in his freezer, he defiantly refused to give up his seat on the powerful Ways and Means Committee. When Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi went to the airwaves to call for his removal from the committee, not from the Congress, she had a revolt on her hands from the Congressional Black Caucus, who warned her that any action to remove the crook would jeopardize Democrat chances of retaking the House in November.
The day after Pelosi said what any rational person would think was correct, top CBC members, including Charlie Rangel, John Conyers and John Lewis, informed Pelosi that the entire Black Caucus would publicly oppose any attempt to discipline Jefferson: a move that could severely undermine African—American support in this year's mid term election.
Here we have one party using extortion tactics to protect a thief, and another party making excuses for thievery. It can hardly be more obvious that political corruption has reached some sort of moral low in this country when political parties find it difficult to punish one of their own, even when exposed by law enforcement as corrupt.
Where are the voices of outrage from elected officials in both major parties? Is everyone afraid they'll lose party support if they speak out?
Evidently, they're not too concerned about losing public support if they remain silent.
Bob Weir is a former detective sergeant in the New York City Police Department. He is the excutive editor of The News Connection in Highland Village, Texas. Email Bob