Roger and I were driving back from DC today (actually he was driving, I was smoking Jose Martis) when we heard about Governor Rod Blagojevich’s crimes. We had fun with it, just a good old-fashioned belly laugh. And this fine paragraph from Jonah Goldberg at The Corner captures my sentiments exactly and explains why we laughed. Jonah calls it "The Blithesome Banality of Blago’s Blunders":
"The word ’evil’ has been used twice today in the Corner to describe Blago’s crimes. I’m not really disputing the use of the word. But that’s not really the word that comes to my mind. Evil is too dark, too serious, too smart for what we’re talking about. I agree with Kathryn that there’s something almost wholesome or nostalgic about Blogo’s criminal misdeeds. He wasn’t found opening an umbrella in parts of his anatomy for money on the internet, or giving cash to terrorists who were going to have Santas wear suicide-padding at department stores around the country. He didn’t check interns for a hernia without permission or spy for the Norks. He’s just a crook. A good, old-fashioned, crook. I know I’m supposed to be outraged, and in a certain sense I am. If he’s guilty of all that’s alleged, I hope they throw him in the stoney lonesome until the Chicago Cubs win the World Series or 2025, whichever comes second. But in another sense, this is just plain enjoyable. It’s like when you watch "Cops" and the idiot burglar tries to hide beside a tree in the dark, even though he’s wearing light-up sneakers. It’s like when Dan Rather dares the world to prove he’s a clueless ass-clown. It’s just good stuff. There’s no tragedy here. No wasted potential. No undeserving victims. No profound and complicated symbolic issues (I somewhat doubt the Serbian-American lobby is going to cry racism). This is the sort of criminality we want the Feds to find, particularly in Chicago. Everyone gets what they deserve — at least so far — and all of the guilty parties are all the more deserving of punishment because they don’t quite understand what the big deal is. I love it."
Mrs. Ponzi will enjoy these felonies more than usual.
Indeed, I do not. I think, rather, that there is something suspicious about the whole thing. I am put in mind of soldiers during the Revolutionary War purposely seeking out small-pox infested persons and getting a doctor to cut the pustules of said person and deposit the disease into a cut in the soldier's arm. This method of "inoculation" was dangerous. But it was the only method available and it did the trick if it was successful. I don't know of a better way to inoculate yourself against scandal than by sipping from the cup early, surviving, and coming out stronger for it. Conservatives should be quite careful about how eagerly they jump to slurp up this bait and carry water for a lazy and intoxicated news media unwilling to do its job when it conflicts with their own audacious hopes. I do not savor a repeat of the Clinton years for many reasons. But high on that list of reasons is that I do not savor the prospect of a beleaguered Right chasing after phantoms of scandal in the hopes of finding a shortcut to political success. Obama is a big political ocean fish. If we are smart, we'll find a bigger fishing pole and stronger test line rather than trying to tug on him as if he were a mere lake trout. No. This may be fun . . . but I resist the temptation. Unfortunately for Republicans, the less they say about it in public the more credible the charges may become.
"Neither political party has a monopoly of virtue or of rascality. Let wrong be exposed and punished, but let no partisan Pecksniff affect a 'holier-than-thou' attitude. Guilt is personal and knows no party."-Charles Evans Hughes during the Teapot Dome scandal of the '20's.
Selling a Senate seat. Ballsy.
I don't think Americans realize what a bunch of tricksters are running government. The only reason to laugh would be if this were an isolated incident; then it would be cute. However, this stuff on a smaller scale happens all the time and is bankrupting the country. We pay trillions in taxes and "our" elected officials dole it out to their cronies and themselves. Then they have the guts to say we don't pay enough, run up big debts, and only laxly repair our infrastructure. California is only a few months ahead of the "Big Three" and it will soon need a bailout too.
The only answer would be to shut off the spigot. Government wouldn't be allowed to spend money on 90% of what they currently do. The founders knew that government was inherently corrupt, so the bigger it is, the more corruption will flourish. The only way to shrink gov't corruption is to cut gov't's budget. I'm sure Barack will be proposing a knew regulatory agency soon so that there will be another set of officials to bribe, er, I mean to watch out for government corruption.
Not to nit-pick Julie, but the method of inoculation used was many times safer than getting smallpox, though it was at times deadly to the patient. The 1721 smallpox epidemic and inoculation controversy it engendered with the Puritan ministers introducing inoculation into British North America forms the topic of the current book I am working on.
Still, analogy/point taken! ;)
Point taken, Tony (though I'm not sure anything said above disputed it . . .). My point actually was that taking the inoculation in this way, though risky, was less risky than getting the disease in an accidental way--though I'm sure you are more expert on the facts of this than I. But as to the metaphor, so it is with scandal less risky to manage one than to step into one. Even then, however, events do sometimes (as did the smallpox in those times) have a way of overtaking even those who believe they are the masters of their fortunes.
Agreed Clint. I am not sure it makes us libertarians that we can appreciate the truth of Lord Acton's dictum: "Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely."