I am certain that this title will not shock all of my readers. The pages of our newspapers and television news reports are frequently drawing our attention to the indiscretions and out-right criminal acts perpetrated by our elected and high ranking government officials.
The principal concern I have is why little or nothing is done about these transgressions and why there is so little concern being expressed by the voting public.
It is well know that the late President Franklin D. Roosevelt had frequent meetings with a woman other than his wife while in office. President John F. Kennedy was notorious as a womanizer, and had trysts within the White House. We are all well aware of President William Jefferson Clinton participating in sexual acts adjacent to the Oval Office, and subquently lying to the American public when confronted. I blame the Washington Press Corp for complicity in covering up for Roosevelt and Kennedy, and I suspect that there may be much more to the Clinton story than has thus far come to light.
Why did the American Public shrug off this conduct when it holds the average citizen to much higher ethical standards? The expression “What is good for the goose is good for the gander” should also apply to our Washington politicians.
Having worked in Washington personally, I believe that there is a culture of corruption that permeates the town. Many, not all, who come to Washington become enamored with their positions of power, and over time believe they can do anything. Far too many think they are above the average Joe, and are thus immune. There is a cult of greed and power that is infectious and extremely dangerous. I have seen it first hand with sexual harassment, and arrogant behavior within the Halls of Congress. This is not isolated to men, because it goes both ways, too. Some of our leaders look upon their Halls of Power as their own candy jars.
Tell me that the entire earmark system is not being abused, because it, too, frequently leads to illegal and unethical behavior and/or actions
Why is it that so few of the Washington powerful actually are removed from office or serve appropriate jail time for their misbehavior? In recent times I can only remember the lobbyist Abrahamoff, the ex-Congressman from Ohio Traficant, California Congressman Cunningham and just a few others getting their just due.
Where are the press and fellow Congressmen to speak up against misbehavior? Most importantly, where are the Senate and House Ethics Committees? Why has action not been taken relative to Senator Larry Craig’s appalling actions at the Minneapolis Airport that he pleaded guilty to? Where is the Ethics Committee regarding Congressman and Senators securing below normal rates on mortgages from Countrywide, such as Senator Christopher Dodd, Senator Kent Conrad, ex-U.N. Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, Where is the action on recent revelations about Congressman Charles Rangel and his under the table loans on a Dominican Republic vacation home or his failure to pay taxes on his questionable Harlem property. Why has the ex-Speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert, been permitted to avoid even an investigation when he personally profited by buying land inexpensively before granting earmarks for a nearby highway? One would think a bill of censure would be appropriate.
What ever happened to the federal investigation into Congressman William Jefferson (D-LA) who was found to have $90,000 in his freezer? Where is the Ethics Committee relative to this development and the questions surrounding Jefferson’s involvement into a telecommunications deal? His problem is over two years old, and still no action, but we the taxpayers are still paying his salary.
The Ethics Committee of the Senate dodged a bullet with the Justice Department instead pressing charges against long serving Alaska Senator Ted Stevens, who is being brought to trial for his alleged misconduct with a local contractor and accepting illegal campaign contributions. This action is long overdue and may send an important signal to the Washington Gang.
I have only covered a few of the many serious actions of our government officials and elected leaders. Remember the long serving Ohio Congressman who was found drunk and wading in a fountain on the Washington Mall years ago? What a disgrace! I believe he was permitted to resign with full retirement compensation. Additionally, why has Congress been permitted to grant full retirement to members after serving only six years? (That’s ONE Senate term or THREE House terms.) I sure would like to have that deal, wouldn’t you?
I suggest that the Washington scene has become a house of horrors, as well as a house of cards. There is no one to blame for this but ourselves, because we keep re-electing these people without holding them accountable to perform their sworn duties. The inmates are running the institution and protecting one another. The inaction of both the Senate and House Ethics Committees is appalling, and the leaders of the Senate and House sit idle, twiddling their thumbs looking out into space. One might wonder what they know, and are hiding from us.
Everyone in Washington is not dirty, but far too many are or will be soon. Two great public servants are Congressman Jim Oberstar D-MN and Jeff Flake R-AZ, but men and/or women of this character are far too few. They are what we all need more of on the Washington scene.
Come the November election, I suspect we will re-elect the same guilty clowns. It is little wonder that the USA is looked upon as THE UGLY AMERICANS by many people around the world. Should we not clean-up our own house before we try to tell everyone else how to run their little part of the world?
Has either Presidential candidate addressed this serious problem?