The Columbia Critic

A place to debate anything we want to. We'll talk Columbia campus issues. We'll talk up the homosexual problem. We'll talk China. And we'll talk without resorting to partisan rhetoric. We may be left. We may be right. But we aren't going to be quoting any party line. We're leading the discussion. But feel free to chime in. Hannity and Colmes this is not.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Harry Reid. Stupid Stupid Stupid

How do Americans feel about politicians at the moment? Look at the Gallup… maybe the Pew poll? I’m willing to hazard that the answer is pretty obvious. In an era of political scandal, corruption, and dishonesty (who am I kidding, I meant scandal, corruption, and dishonesty that the public KNOWS about), our faith in government is low. Democrats have tried to paint their opposition, the Republicans, as the Repuglicans; a party that has weathered one disgrace after another, from Duke Cunningham to Jack Abramoff to Katherine Harris all the way to Ann Coulter. It was almost as if a miracle had dropped into the Democrats’ laps, saving them from the impending death that many had predicted as inevitable after the 2004 Bush re-election victory. All they have to do is take the open wound that is Republican scandal and wiggle their finger in it…. That and offer America an alternative path, a guiding light of leadership.

A good first step was the adamant push for reforming lobbying rules. The Republicans had offered soft reform; limiting gifts to be under a particular dollar amount. It was pretty clear to the American public, at least to those paying attention, that that was a half hearted attempt that put into perspective just how lucrative and how used to gifts and incentives that congressional representatives had gotten.

"Now we're going to say you can't have a meal for more than 20 bucks," said Senator Trent Lott, Republican of Mississippi. "Where are you going, to McDonald's?"

Democrats offered a solid lobbying reform plan. Ban gifts of all types from lobbying groups. That sort of idea seems to make sense as it is my belief that we do not want our lawmakers unduly influenced by the green colored influence of large and small corporations and interests. It was clear that Jack Abramoff was guilty of bribing and taking bribes from Indian tribes. It was not so clear when right wing blogs and media outlets tried to paint Senator Harry Reid as part of that same scandal. Reid is the Senator from Nevada; his job is to work closely to balance Indian casinos with Las Vegas gambling interests. He is after all the author of the Indian Gaming Act which is opposed to off-reservation Indian Casinos, although it makes you wonder why Reid accepted money from Indian tribes.

The fact of the matter is that congressional votes and positions should not be able to be bought, nor should congressmen give the impression that they are being influenced. For Harry Reid to say that Jack Abramoff is a terrible person for taking money from the Indian tribes when Reid also accepted at least 30% of total donations is silly. Reid may not have been influenced by the tribes money, he does not even need to change his political position on off-reservation gaming, he took money and that gives the impression to everyone that Indian hands are in his pocket.

Reid is again in the midst of a holier than thou predicament. The AP reports that in 2004-2005, Reid accepted 3 ringside seats to professional boxing matches from the Nevada Athletic Commission. The NAC was trying to sway Reid away from creating a federal boxing commission, as they feared federal oversight would harm their ability to regulate fights. Again the issue is intention and appearance. Reid says he committed no ethics violation by accepting the tickets and did so to observe the sport that he is trying to sponsor legislation over. Reid says it was just research, I’m inclined to believe him, but intent is irrelevant. What is the point of lobbying reform if congressmen can justify themselves by saying that they were not influenced and meant no harm? Reform minded parties cannot justify their reception of gifts as acceptable because they have faith in the strength of their own character, it is blatantly hypocritical. Being a Democrat does not make it ok to be the exception to the lobbying reform rule, one should not be swayed by gifts nor should one give the impression of it by accepting gifts. How exactly are the Democrats going to convince America that they are the party to stand behind, that they are reform minded, ethical, and guided by the strength of their convictions if they are consistent with their own policies? Democrats need to keep their eyes open, they are in a prime position to take control of the Senate and the House, but all it will take for things to fall part is inaction and hypocrisy. If they have no plan, a Republican will enter the stage, denounce the Bush administration and its scandal ridden constituents, and poof! Nail in the coffin.


  • At 2:30 PM, Blogger The Gentle Cricket said…

    Like McCain, Reid should have paid for the tickets himself, or perhaps limited it to a single 'research' trip.


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