Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

How low can they go?

I just told my students that I think that the House Republican leadership has perhaps one more chance to get its response to this scandal right, with a full accounting of who knew what when and who did what when, with no attempts at deflecting responsibility. On the basis of what I’ve seen so far, I’m not confident that this opportunity will be taken.

I also wondered whether some might not be tempted to take the low road here, opening the sludge gates to inundate Congress with the raw sewage of scandal. I fear that there’s lots of bad behavior out there, much of it of the "open secret" variety. And I have no doubt but that both parties have been remiss in the self-discipline department. And I know that negative campaigning works. And I know that the existence of the blogosphere makes emptying the septic tank relatively easy.

I don’t know whether this strategy would "save" the Republicans, but I do know that the institutional price to be paid for such a victory would be very high.

Am I right about any of this?

Discussions - 4 Comments

Joseph - I’m sure you are right about something there, but I think there’s enough ambiguity in what you said that it’s hard to know exactly what.

I’m curious if there could be a common reference point. During the time leading up to and during Clinton’s impeachment, did the GOP ever "take the low road," "opening the sludge gates to inundate Congress [and the White House] with the raw sewage of scandal"?

Considering the amount of buck passing that’s already going on, it seems doubtful the GOP has even discussed a strategy for damage control. It seems like priority one for the leadership should be how to control this thing. So far, there’s been no sign of that.

A politics of scandal, whether implicating primarily Democrats or Republicans, surely undermines whatever public confidence there might still be (not much) in our institutions. This Congress had already been largely a failure. Recovery time will now probably be longer. No one is his right mind -- goose or gander, so to speak -- can be applauding any of this stuff. And it could get a lot worse.

So, yes, I think Joe is right.

This just isn’t going to cut it with the American people.


’The buck stops here’ Hastert declared, denying any wrongdoing.

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