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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Checking in on the 110th Congress

    Corrections

    An April 16 column mistakenly stated that Rep. Barney Frank admitted to having sex with a minor. Instead, Rep. Gerry Studds admitted to having sex with a 17-year-old congressional page. The Wildcat regrets the error.

    A recent Gallup poll revealed that only 28 percent of Americans approve of the job the Democratic Congress has done so far. There could be any number of reasons for such a low approval rating, but here’s a guess: Hypocrisy doesn’t play well with the public.

    In the months leading up to last year’s mid-term elections, there was no shortage of rhetoric decrying the inequities of the Republican-dominated House and Senate. Democratic candidates implored us to help “”end the culture of corruption”” that apparently plagued a “”do-nothing”” Congress. “”Pork barrel”” spending, rubberstamping the president’s Iraq policy … the new majority promised us change for the better, but so far they’ve come up short.

    How so? Well, let’s start by examining that cute little “”do-nothing Congress”” sound bite. Democrats used to illustrate the fact that politicians seemed to be spending less and less time working in Washington ðð- reinforcing the phony (though all-too-popular) notion that legislators only work when their chamber is in session.

    Of course, Congressional representatives work more now than ever before. It’s just that they have two offices: After a three- or four-day week in Washington, D.C., most return to offices in their districts to work and keep up appearances until returning to the Capitol for the next week’s voting.

    But regardless, if the Republicans ran a “”do-nothing”” Congress, this one isn’t faring any better. Already the House of Representatives has been on a two-week vacation while its leader, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, has been in the Middle East on what many have called an illegal tour of terrorist-sponsoring nations.

    As a result, the House has yet to pass a bill providing needed funding for soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan – prompting a number of dangerous cost-cutting measures sure to make life harder for troops in harm’s way.

    And what about the “”culture of corruption””? Surely Democrats made good on their campaign promises and cleaned house, right?

    Not quite. Capitol Hill is still riddled with dishonesty. Take, for instance, Rep. William Jefferson, D-La. In 2005 Jefferson was caught on video taking a bribe from an undercover FBI agent, but under the Democratic leadership he’s still representing Louisiana’s 2nd Congressional District in the House of Representatives.

    Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., was accused by the FBI of violating House ethics rules, and he hasn’t even gotten so much as a slap on the wrist. In January, he was even awarded a prestigious committee chairmanship.

    In February, Governor Tom Vilsack, D-Ia., ended his 2008 bid for the presidency after his campaign racked up nearly $400,000 in debt. After bowing out of the race, he endorsed Sen. Hillary Clinton for the job – and soon after it was reported that, strangely enough, Clinton had paid off that debt for him. Hmm … If buying endorsements isn’t dishonest, then who knows what is?

    Of course, there’s more: Rep. Alan Mollohan, D-W.Va., has been under investigation by the FBI for directing government contracts to a friend’s business. Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., was once under investigation for (and admitted to) having sex with a minor and allowing a prostitution ring to operate from his apartment, but 20 years later he’s one of the most powerful Democrats on Capitol Hill.

    Democrats campaigned on ridding Washington of that kind of filth, but the fact is they’re doing an absolutely terrible job at it. It’s true that Republicans had far too many ethics problems when they were in charge, but at least they got rid of the filth: When Rep. Mark Foley, R-Fla., was accused of having sex with an underage page, Republican leadership effectively forced his resignation. Why is Barney Frank, his Democratic comrade-in-pedophilia, still in a position of power?

    Even the infamous Tom DeLay left his job as accusations of corruption began to mount, but does anybody honestly think bribe-taking Jefferson won’t stay in office?

    Maybe it’s that double standard for Democrats that has made the newest edition of Congress so unpopular so soon – and what a shame that’s gotta be for anyone who believed all the empty promises of the least election cycle. Maybe we’d all just do well to remember that power corrupts, no matter who’s in charge.

    David Francis is a pre-business sophomore. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu

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