The new crop of legislators, mostly Democrats, are having their orientation classes up on Capitol Hill
The Capitol, meanwhile, buzzed with the energy of House members-to-be and senators-in-waiting attending freshman orientation.
More than 50 incoming House freshmen spent the day in meetings focused not on big legislative items or the Iraq war but rather on office logistics and ethics — a key issue after a season of scandal that had, at least in part, led to the election of the new members.
Yes, according to the National Exit Poll, 41% of voters thought that corruption was extremely important in their selection of a candidate while another 33% thought it was very important. (I guess these people didn't vote for John Murtha or Bob Menendez not that that mattered).
And it seems that no less than 9 House Republicans lost their seat due to a personal scandal and Democrats have promised to clean up politics in Washington.
You would think then that the leadership would want to set an example for what politics without corruption would look like. Yet instead, the presumed House-Speaker Nancy Pelosi has endorsed the ethically-challenged, and AbScam allumni John Murtha.
So here is representative Murtha, an unindicted co-conspirator in a plan to get Arab Muslims false identities so they can enter the US undetected. That was a bad thing in 1978 and it has even more ominous implications today.
Not only is he ethically challenged; but he was willing to take money from Arabs who wanted
- To purchase asylum in the U.S.
- To involve them in an investment scheme
- To get help in getting his money out of his country
Given what we know today, I'm not sure it is setting a good example for the young'uns to put Rep Murtha in any position of power, let alone Majority Leader.
The Democrats have, in addition to sweeping out corruption, have promised to be bi-partisan. Which bings us to the issue of the House Intelligence Committee and who should be Chairman. By all accounts, the most senior Democrat on the committee, Rep Jane Harman is doing a great job and is a very informed and thoughtful person. However, the presumptive Speaker, feels she is too bi-partisan.
Pelosi, who represents San Francisco and often is a proponent of liberal causes, thinks Harman would be too partisan.
For the wrrong side, that is. So who does Pelosi want? A former Federal Judge she helped get impeaced for corruption; Alcee Hastings.
According to The Washington Post, in 1981 when Hastings discovered the FBI wanted to interview him, he left his hotel without checking out; headed not to the closest airport with the earliest flight, but to a nearby alternative; and engaged in a complex series of calls to his girlfriend, getting her to leave her home to call him from a payphone, then calling her back there from a third number.
"This is not the behavior of an innocent man," wrote Post columnist Ruth Marcus, who covered the impeachment.
These are early, but disturbing signs.
People want Democrats to clean House and get things done. We don't want new and better corruption, just like we don't want cut and run.
It's beginning to look like Democrats will be having a short run at leadership if this continues. But we can deal with the corruption thing in two years. But they had better get it right in Iraq.
'Cause the problem is, that at least with regards to the War against Islamists, two years may be too long to wait.