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Heavy-Handed Politics

"€œGod willing, with the force of God behind it, we shall soon experience a world
without the United States and Zionism."€ -- Iran President Ahmadi-Nejad

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Is Larry Craig The Face Of The U.S. Senate?

The simple explanation for the Senate's corruption infection would be a standby aphorism: "power corrupts." But that's too easy. Our Founding Fathers recognized that a body of glory-seeking power players would take advantage of their situation. To that end, they strictly circumscribed the power of the Senate and placed senators under the control of their state legislatures.

Today, however, those controls have been jettisoned. Senators are directly elected, meaning they must find some payoff for voters. That payoff comes in the form of earmarking. As long as the payoffs keep coming, voters keep voting.

This is especially true for Democratic politicians, whose voters are often dependent on the tax dollars their senators bring home. When Republicans engage in sex scandals or clear-cut corruption, they resign or face the wrath of their constituents -- ask Mark Foley, Jack Ryan, Bob Livingston, Bob Packwood, Ed Schrock and Don Sherwood, among others. When Democrats engage in sex scandals or clear-cut corruption, they retain their seats as long as they keep the cash flowing -- just ask Gerry Studds (re-elected six times after having sex with a male congressional page), Barney Frank (re-elected eight times after his gay lover ran a male escort ring out of his apartment), Mel Reynolds (re-elected despite facing an indictment for sexual assault and criminal sexual abuse of a 16-year-old campaign worker), Sen. Charles Robb (re-elected despite credible sex scandal allegations) and Gus Savage (re-elected despite fondling a Peace Corps volunteer).

Larry Craig will almost certainly resign his Senate seat. But Craig is a symptom of a deeper problem plaguing our politics. Until voters insist on honesty rather than payoffs, corruption will remain endemic to the halls of power.

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By Ben Shapiro

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