May 26, 2002
How many crooked politicians can dance on the head of a pin?
While bloghopping this weekend, I ran across this article at the Daily Pundit, discussing this article at Rhetorica.net. One section of this fine article caught my attention:
Bad news bias: ... this bias makes politicians look far more crooked than they really are.
It made me stop and think for a while. Now, while most will find fault with many politicians out there for outrageously stupid statements (from both sides; their perceived idiocy level is likely to be inversely proportional to your support of their voting record), it is true that there are few bad apples in congress. In the senate, we have Hillary Clinton and Ted Kennedy, both of whom labor under an ethical cloud. Who else? Oh, yeah, we have Robert Byrd, who used to be associated with the KKK 40 years ago; this is not crooked, just ignorant. I can't think of any more that are crooked.
In the House, we have Gary Condit (at least until January). We have Jim Traficant (until January, or until he's jailed, whichever comes first). We have Jim McDermott. We have a few with checkered pasts, such as Henry Hyde and Dan Burton, and wing nuts such as Cynthia McKinney and Bob Barr, but not a whole lot of crooks.
Six, out of 535. I'm sure there are others, but really, there are not a lot of crooked people in congress, yet we (here in the blogosphere, and elsewhere) fulminate about how crooked congress is, and the news media fan the flames.
We have had some celebrated crooks in the past, such as Dan Rostenkowski and Jay Kim, as well as former presidents Nixon and Clinton (There were others, but they are the two biggies in the last 30 years). But they tend to get weeded out in fairly short order (witness Condit, who was a cinch for reelection until last May, and Kim and Rostenkowski, who lost reelection bids after their legal troubles surfaced).