First Ted Stevens’s kid has his office raided by federal agents investigating political corruption and influence peddling. Given the twin GOP passions for nepotism and influence peddling (for instance, ew), that particular confluence only seemed like a matter of time.
Today the FBI carried on the proud GOP tradition when it raided the offices of Karen Weldon, daughter of crazy PA Republican Curt Weldon (Hilzoy explains why crazy is an understatement). To recap the recent Weldon saga, McClatchy reports that the family Weldon is under investigation by the FBI for corruption. Weldon’s office angrily denies it, immediately after which the AP independently confirms the story. At the point the controversy pitted two major news outlets against one of the most credibility-challenged Congressmen in America. Now for the benefit of the two or three people who could not see that Weldon’s staff is operating out of the logic-free limbic system, the FBI itself has weighed in.
On a side note, I am sure that Abu Gonzales’s DOJ would love to spend its pre-election October doing something other than generating horrendous headlines for the GOP. A cease-and-desist order is probably out of the question (imagine those headlines) but is it even possible that no Democrats have crossed the line in the last four or five years? The independent DOJ died sometime around January 2001 so let’s spare any nonsense about blind justice. If Abu G could help out in any way he certainly would. Similarly the media is practically starving for something to fill its usual both sides are just as bad pabulum narrative. Loopy as he is William Jefferson can only feed so many headlines.
Amusingly, the GOP itself probably caused the current situation through initiatives which must have seemed like great ideas at the time. At its core Tom DeLay, Rick Santorum and Grover Norquist meant for the K Street Project to cut Democratic access to lobbyist money to the greatest degree possible. Most lobbying firms rotated in Republicans to major positions and those who didn’t got the lash. The general plan was to starve the hated liberals of hard lobbying cash, widely considered the lifeblood of national politics . Realigning the cash spigot would cement a Republican majority sustaining itself through a financial advantage and a willingness to use majority power to maintain that advantage. Like the Iraq war, the idea probably looked great on paper but unintended consequences have a way of biting you in the ass.
Look at it this way. None of us are stupid enough to sit an average politician next to an unguarded cookie jar and expect not to lose a few cookies, the jar and the toaster next to it. A few politicians go into the biz purely out of love for the common good, sure, and some even keep that idealism for longer than the time it takes to unpack their bags. But on average an unflinching personal rectitude just doesn’t list that high on a politician’s list of needed skills. That is why we have Inspectors General offices in every major federal department, ethics committees in Congress and DOJ lawyers who specialize in campaign and influence peddling laws. You don’t leave the cookie jar unguarded unless you plan to lose it.
Seen in that light the current wave of GOP scandals is not actually a bug but a feature. Republicans aggressively cut off as much Democratic access to conventional power as they possibly could while expanding it for themselves and dismantling any possible outlet for meaningful oversight. In essence the GOP put fat padlock and an angry Doberman on the cookie jar for Democrats while eliminating the jar altogether for themselves. The Dems did not become righteous people and Republicans didn’t suddenly become a tavern of whores (no more than usual anyway), human nature simply followed its course in a system where only the GOP had any power to abuse.
Dems will soon have Congress and probably the White House, and for a while anyway the Right will go back to angrily denouncing the depredations of intrusive government. I would counsel those guys not to worry; just wait until the Dems start to hobble Ethics Committees and aggressively steer the money spigot in their own direction. Once that happens a news cycle as overwhelmingly schadenfreude-rich as this one is only so many years away.