And speaking of Mr. Jefferson, here is the story everyone is talking about:
Democratic leaders sought to distance the party from Mr. Jefferson, the Louisiana Democrat who has been accused by the Federal Bureau of Investigation of taking hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes. In doing that, the leaders tried to draw a distinction between the accusations against him and what they said was a much broader pattern among Republicans of trading legislative influence for campaign donations, trips and other perks.
Mr. Jefferson appeared on Capitol Hill to deny any wrongdoing. Facing a bank of television cameras down the hall from his Congressional office, which was raided by federal agents on Saturday night, Mr. Jefferson said that he would not resign and that he expected to be cleared.
In court documents made public on Sunday, the F.B.I. said Mr. Jefferson had taken bribes to help a small technology company win federal contracts and to help it with business deals in Africa. The F.B.I. said he had concealed $90,000 from the scheme in the freezer of his home in Washington.
“There are two sides to every story,” Mr. Jefferson said, without providing any details.
For all the intense partisanship that has surrounded the wave of legal and ethical cases on Capitol Hill, the Jefferson case brought some Democrats and Republicans together on one point: that the all-night search conducted by the F.B.I. raised questions about whether the executive branch had violated the constitutional doctrine of separation of powers by carrying out a raid on the official office of a member of Congress.
A couple of quick things about this story that are worth noting.
First, I find it difficult to compare the personal corruption of Rep. Jefferson to the systemic abuse of power as demonstrated by the DeLay/Abramoff/Reed “Axis of Crony.” Jefferson appears to be a cheat and a crook, much like the Duke, but it is not, to me, evidence that the Democratic party is suffering from a culture of corruption. It looks to me like he was taking money to fatten his pockets- not quite the same thing as the culture of corruption that the Democrats intend to run against (and I think there is more than ample evidence of widespread systemic corruption in the current GOP).
That doesn’t mean Republican strategists, spinmeisters, and their echo chambers in the blogosphere won’t be able to blur the lines effectively enough regarding that distinction. My guess is that they will.
Second, I find the outrage that some sort of separation of powers has been violated to be a little silly. It already feels like congresspersons have some sort of diplomatic immunity and can basically get away with murder in DC. I am not sure about you all, but I am pretty sure if I got loaded, rammed my car all along Pennsylvania Avenue at 3 am, and then slurred all over the Capitol Police, I would be given a chauffered ride home. My general attitude is they should be treated like the rest of us MORE OFTEN.
Third, I am afraid to search the blogosphere, because I know I will find idiotic statements like this offering from our own resident rabble-rouser:
Personally, I think it is quite reasonable that the DOJ would raid Jefferson’s office, but not the offices of DeLay, Ney, Doolittle, Pomobo, Harris, Lewis, or any of the other Republicans under investigation.
That statement, although offered in jest here (at least I think it was- it is DougJ, after all), will probably be echoed with fervent earnestness elsewhere (perhaps by the Jane Hamshers of the left?), but is just silliness. It unfairly impugns the integrity of the FBI by suggesting they are nothing more than a politically motivated hit squad, it fails to recognize the length and seriousness of the current inquiry into Jefferson’s behavior, and it fails to acknowledge the fact that they had a warrant to search his office- something, unless I am mistaken, must be signed off by the judiciary.
And that is all I have to say about that.