In response to Heather Buchheim’s article, “The Straw That Broke the Elephant’s Back,” (Daily Nexus. Jan. 11) it is gratifying to see some well-deserved criticism of the Congressional Republicans’ shameless surrender to financial corruption. It is, however, rather unrealistic to point towards the Democrats as an alternative, which Buchheim does.
To begin, the Abramoff scandal, which Buchheim insinuates is a Republican-only affair, actually involves leading Democrats as well. Harry Reid apparently took more than $60,000 from the lobbyist (all of which he has refused to return), according to a National Review piece, and the Associated Press reports that numerous other Democrats, including minority whip Dick Durbin, received contributions tainted by the unethical lobbyist as well. Though the numbers show the Republicans were the majority of the recipients, there is no doubt Democrats were willing to participate as well.
In addition, Buchheim speaks of Cheney’s former second, “Scooter” Libby, and his indictment by Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, indicating this is yet another case of Republican law-breaking. However, revelations by journalist Bob Woodward, of Watergate fame, severely weakened Fitzgerald’s case against Libby. Currently, it is debatable if the prosecution will even go forward. (The Harvard Crimson reported that Woodward said Novak’s source “was not in the White House.”)
But Buchheim, treating indictments as if they were convictions, also adds that House Majority Leader Tom Delay was indicted by Special Texas Prosecutor Ronnie Earle for money laundering. However, this indictment is as substantial as Swiss cheese; the law Delay is accused of breaking didn’t exist at the time of the supposed transgression, and Earle shopped grand juries after his first rejected him on the grounds that he lacked sufficient evidence to prosecute (“Delay Seeks Testimony of Grand Jurors,” KGBT 4- TV, CBS News, Dec. 16). Delay has ended his prospects for regaining his original seat, but not out of guilt, but the inability of House Republicans to wait on his return after a long court battle to resume their normal activities.
None of this is intended to defend Republicans, who are mired in corruption. Rather, it is important to understand that corruption in Washington is a truly non-partisan problem. The GOP has its corporations and right-wing supporters, the Democrats big unions, Hollywood and George Soros. Demonizing one party while blindly praising another can’t solve the real corruption in Washington. Both parties have betrayed their democratic base for special interests, lucrative deals and insider haggling. From allowing agendas to be steered by extremist groups to vying for pork projects, the most serious corruption in the Senate and House isn’t illegal and isn’t reported on. And regaining the accountability a democracy needs to survive won’t be achieved by towing the partisan line.
Paul Jones is a political science transfer student.