Friday, March 19, 2004

Mr. Magoo Launches an Investigation

The somnolent House Ethics Panel, where both Republican and Democrat members have been snoozing happily together for years (see earlier posting on this topic here), has suddenly, under a barrage of hot criticism, awakened a little bit. Or, at least they're putting on that show.

What has attracted their attention is the alleged bribing/threatening of Congressman Nick Smith (R-Mich.) who has said that last fall "unnamed GOP colleagues had tried to bribe him into voting for the contentious Medicare prescription drug bill on Nov. 22 by promising campaign help to his son, who is running to replace his retiring father." (Washington Post story here ... requires registration)

According to the Post, inquiring minds now want to know: does this mean that the Ethics Panel has decided to get up off its collective fat ass, after four years of total paralysis, or is it simply yielding to overwhelming public outrage that the blatant buying of Congress goes on pretty much in the open these days? Smart money is betting on the latter explanation.

"Four months after Smith made his assertions via a Michigan radio show and a newspaper column, eight frustrated watchdog groups held a Washington news conference to berate the ethics panel, which had not uttered a peep about the Smith case or other reports of questionable actions."

And recall that I speculated in the earlier posting here that maybe the "ethics truce" in the House, with the Democrats going along meekly with their meaner partisan brethren, was due to the Republicans having some dirt on Nancy Pelosi. Well, now: "With the ethics panel launched on an inquiry that appears to involve only Republicans, there was mild speculation yesterday that the GOP might retaliate by filing complaints against Democrats -- a move that would end the unofficial truce. A potential target, a few Republicans suggested, might be House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.)."

Whatever. Let the chips fall. We'd like to (a) get our democracy back and (b) shut up the non-stop bragging by Republicans far and wide that they're the only "moral" people left in the universe.

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