I am a firm believer that we, the voters, get the political representation we deserve.
The most recent case-study: New Orleans Congressman William Jefferson.
While the nation assisted New Orleans with post-Katrina clean-up, Congressman Jefferson was tidying up quite nicely his own self thanks to $400,000 in bribes, according to the federal indictment of Jefferson announced yesterday.
Jefferson’s indictment comes nearly two years after a federal raid on his home that turned up $90,000 in cash in his freezer. Insert your own joke about cold, hard cash here: ____.
Jefferson becomes the latest proof positive of P.J. O’Rourke’s axiom that “as long as buying and selling is controlled by legislation, the first thing to be bought and sold will be legislators.”
Barring Johnnie Cochran rising from the dead and figuring a way to pin this on the LAPD, Jefferson will join the pantheon of political cartoonist caricatures of thieving politicians.
Reaction to the Jefferson indictment from legislative leaders reminded me that neither party wears moral indignation well.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi pursed her lips and declared, “If these charges are proven true, they constitute an egregious and unacceptable abuse of blah blah blah blah…” Pelosi then said Democrats were committed to eliminating unethical behavior from Congress as soon as they eliminate wet from water.
“If the charges are proven true,” said Pelosi. Yeah, right. Two of Jefferson’s associates have pled out and agreed to cooperate and the FBI has videotape of Jefferson taking a $100,000 bribe from a federal informant. In a related story, Pelosi believes it is too early to say whether or not Amelia Earhart has been lost at sea.
However, it was House Republican Leader John Boehner’s reaction that was most disconnected from reality. Boehner said, “The American people rightfully expect the highest ethical standards from their elected leaders.”
No, we don’t.
Based on the fact that Congress routinely has a lower approval rating than the guy on the expressway off-ramp who wants to spit-shine your windshield and sell you a pair of tube socks, Cro-Magnon ethical standards are what Americans expect — and Congress rarely fails to deliver.
In 2006, after the G found the money in his freezer, William Jefferson was re-elected.
We get the representation we deserve.
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