Joshua Marshall over at TPM raises an interesting post about "The Abramoff Matter" (TAM)- specifically if the investigation into this disgraced Washington lobbyist leads to the indictment of a seriously large amount of Congressmen.
According to LH (one of the TPM readers) the last big scandal that rocked Congress was the Abscam investigations in 1980, which led to the convictions of six members of congress (and their obvious removal from political office). According to LH, the Department of Justice, which oversees the FBI, decided not to continue with the operation since it was obvious that any more convictions would actually change the balance of power in congress. Fearing the political ramifications of such a move, the DOJ stopped the investigation.
Well, here are my thoughts on the matter.
If TAM does reveal indictable offenses amongst congressmen, then every single suspect should go to trial and have his or her day in court. I don't care a rat's posterior whether such a procedure leads to a change in the balance of power or even makes the current power structure stronger. As far as I'm concerned, every single corrupt politician should be taken out, no matter how much it upsets the balance of power.
The thing is that those who make the law - members of congress - are themselves subject to the law. The enforcement of the rule of law, according to the US constitution, is applied to people equally - no one is considered "special" enough to operate outside of it, except those to whom the law and the constitution allow (but not members of congress).
Corruption in politics is a hideous thing that destroys and erodes the democratic system. America, of all nations, should take the lead in destroying political corruption and be an example to its neighbours and allies.
If I was living in America then I would naturally vote according to my political direction, which would probably be the Democrats. If TAM results in every single Democratic Senator and Congressman being jailed for corruption - then how would I feel? Sad? Yes. But I would not even attempt to justify letting any of them off for the sake of "stability".
The worst case scenario for the Republican party would be the indictment and removal of 32 of its members in the House and 35 of its members of the Senate. This would give the Democrats a majority in the House and a 2/3 majority in the Senate - enough to force impeachment. The chance of this happening is about as remote as me becoming US president, but there is no doubt that if TAM leads to many indictments, it may not really change the current balance, but it will make it a heck of a lot easier for the Democrats to gain seats in the 2006 congressional elections.
And, of course, this is all predicated on the assumption that TAM only involves members of the GOP. If Democrats are involved, let 'em get burned too.
© 2005 Neil McKenzie Cameron, http://one-salient-oversight.blogspot.com/
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 License.