Perhaps Barney and Tom need medication to help them recall the prehistoric years when Democrats ruled the Congress. Maybe when the Democrats ran the House and Senate their style of corrupt politics was less complicated and linked to the lobbyist culture than that of the Republicans-but it just as real. Apparently calling for reform when you are in the powerless minority is a little easier than making it a fact when you are about to wield real power-the Dems may just be a bit more sophisticated about whose beds they end up sleeping in.
"Other Democratic lawmakers argued that the real ethical problem was the Republicans, not the current ethics rules, and that the election had alleviated the need for additional regulations. “There is an understanding on our side that the Republicans paid a price for a lot of the abuses that evolved,” said Representative Barney Frank, Democrat of Massachusetts, alluding to earmarks. Senator Tom Harkin, an Iowa Democrat and a senior member of the Appropriations Committee, said the scandals of the current Congress were “about the K Street Project for the Republicans,” referring to the party’s initiative to put more Republicans in influential lobbying posts and build closer ties to them. “That was incestuous from the beginning. We never had anything like that,” Mr. Harkin said of Democrats. “That is what soured the whole thing-New York Times, Nov. 19, 2006 Democrats about to wield power in the incoming Congress have some great ideas about ethics reform. From an outsider's viewpoint, many sound pretty basic-don't take free meals or fly on corporate jets, allow candidates public financing so they don't owe everything to special interests, don't pass bills that have provisions that benefit firms that employ family or people who used to be on your staff. It is highly unlikely that the more restrictive reforms will actually be enacted. But before we solely blame the Democrats (or the Republicans) for this ethical mess, we should probably take a look at the way normal organizations are run. How many churches have secretaries who just happen to attend the parish for which they work? How many of you find a summer job for your niece or a friend's son? How many of you have been hired by an organization because you happen to know somebody with influence at the top? We may expect that our elected leaders, like our clergy, will operate with higher standards. But unless we are a little more conscientious about cleaning up our own behavior, they will probably assume, again and again, that we will turn a blind eye...after all, aren't they men and women like us?