Chicago Tribune: Gerrymandering Made Jesse Jr. Do It
In case you missed it, the Chicago Tribune editorialized on Thursday about Jesse Jackson Jr.'s plea bargain deal with the feds. The Tribune's editors, with a magnificent sense of the moral, argued that former Congressman Jackson was tempted into his crimes (fraud and theft related to campaign funds) because of the scourge of gerrymandering, the ancient American art of drawing congressional and state legislative districts every decade to the advantage of the party controlling a state.
Why Jesse Jr. didn't use the editors' shrewd argument in trying to fend off prosecution is only known to Jesse Jr. and his wife-in-crime, Sandi (who's headed to the hoosegow for filing false tax returns; could eHarmony have better matched this couple?). Or maybe Jesse Jr. did float the gerrymandering argument as part of his mea culpa, only to have the feds guffaw.
The Tribune's editors had this to say:
To the humiliation that Jesse Jackson Jr. and his wife, Sandi, imposed on Illinois, you can add a political indictment: This state's egregious gerrymandering aided and abetted the Jacksons' long crime spree. If Jackson had been running for office in a competitive district -- rather than in one of the nation's most overwhelmingly Democratic -- the couple arguably would have had to spend campaign funds on needs more urgent than Build-a-Bear toy animals, what the feds delicately call Costco "undergarments" and the goofy mounted elk heads.
No doubt there were egregious districts drawn by those rascally Democrats in Springfield. But the editors' argument amounts to something along the lines of "If Tiffany's didn't leave those diamond rings on the counter unguarded, Jesse Jr. wouldn't have stolen them." Perhaps Jesse Jr., like his old man, simply lacks the character and moral compass to avoid sticky fingers syndrome.
Crooks aren't necessarily shrewd, but they can be - until they're caught. If Jesse Jr. wanted to siphon off money from his campaigns, he would have found ways to do it, even in a competitive congressional district. Or he could have shaken down contributors and laundered money in a hundred and one other ways. Venality finds a means.
Of course, the editors' frustration with congressional and state legislative gerrymandering by Democrats is shared by those of who aren't Illinoisans (or blind partisans). Governor Pat Quinn and a Democrat legislature are doing fine jobs fleecing taxpayers, spending like they're Barack Obama clones, sky-rocketing debt and deficits, and driving good citizens out (per the Illinois Policy Institute). The Land of Lincoln deserves better.
Shameful, Democrat doings. But Jesse Jr. is a crook, regardless the temptations. Or as Henry Ward Beecher long ago proclaimed: "Temptations are enemies outside the castle seeking entrance. If there be no false retainer within who holds treacherous parley, there can scarcely be even an offer."