Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Here’s Something You Don’t See Everyday

The Senate Ethics committee might be investigating the ethics of a senator. I have this from a story at Politico. Based on their actions in the past thirty years this is nearly unprecedented and represents a sea change in the committee’s behavior. At this point it is only a ‘maybe’ so this might just be an attempt to disappear the embarrassing story of just how that seat was filled.
I used to think that the purpose of the Ethics Committee was to investigate ethical lapses of senators. But I have come to doubt that since there are so, so many lapses and next to no investigations. Chris Dodd’s sweetheart deal with a mortgage company he regulates from the Banking Committee is of no interest to the Ethics Committee. Harry Reid’s very questionable and highly profitable land dealings are blithely ignored by the misnamed Ethics Committee. Diane Feinstein was chairperson of a subcommittee that gave contracts worth a billion plus to her own husband and I think all she got from the Ethics Committee was a high five. Debbie Stabenow’s hectoring about bringing accountability to talk radio is treated as business as usual even though her schemes would shower money on her husband.
So, I guess the real question is: why have they decided to even talk about Burris’ piddly misdemeanors (or felonies or whatever)? Are they disgusted with him because there was no misappropriation of public funds to self and family? Are they irritated that he has amended his statements rather than sticking with his lies like the rest of the club? I’m pretty sure it’s not a racial thing. But when something as abnormal and extraordinary as the Senate Ethics Committee examining a senator’s ethics appears out of the blue and the cause is unclear, one starts grasping at straws.

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