As Kim noted, yesterday Judicial Watch released its list of what it considers the 10 most corrupt political figures of 2007. It’s a rather entertaining list, but I’m not quite certain I agree with their definition of “corrupt.” It’d be a damned sight easier to say so if they actually gave a definition, but as I’m reading their list and its examples, I find myself disagreeing with them.
They make a point of listing the people alphabetically, to avoid saying that X is worse than Y, and it’s as fair a system as any. Corruption is vile, and to weigh one form against another is dangerously close to excusing some of it.
Anyway, I figured it might be fun to take a look at their list, and see where I agree and disagree.
1. Hillary Clinton. No problem there whatsoever.
2. John Conyers. The allegations seem pretty petty — misusing his staff for his personal benefit. Not even personal gain. The guy seems like a morally blind clod, all wrapped up with the same sort of “l’etat, c’est moi” mentality that cost quite a few monarchs their heads, but he should be taken down by his peers in Congress — not worthy of the attention of the judiciary.
3. Larry Craig. The guy’s a buffoon, a bozo, and a crass jerk. He got himself into a jam, dug himself in deeper and deeper, then tried to pull the “do you know who I am?” defense. Tragically, he’s not a Kennedy, so that only sent him in deeper. But apart from that one pathetic attempt, there’s no evidence he ever misused his position for personal gain. He’s done a fantastic job of destroying himself, it seems wasteful to go after him any more. Napoleon once advised “never interrupt your enemy when he’s making a mistake,” and the theory is sound — let him wreck himself, he needs no help.
4. Dianne Feinstein. Why the hell is she still in office? The Senate ought to toss her out on her arrogant, kleptocratic ass.
5. Rudy Giuliani: Apparently they wrote this piece before the “hiding expenses” story largely evaporated. And the Kerik thing is simply “guilt by association,” and unlike Hillary Clinton and Norman Hsu, Kerik’s legal and ethical troubles came to light AFTER he and Giuliani had parted company. I’m fairly certain that there has to be some good dirt on a guy who’s been twice divorced AND twice elected mayor of New York City, but this is pretty small potatoes. I suspect Giuliani’s ranking is based more on his own notoriety than that of his offenses.
6. Mike Huckabee: They overlooked his exceptionally generous pardoning policy, and didn’t go into enough detail about his cheerful acceptance of “gifts” and “speaker’s fees” while still governor of Arkansas. I’m starting to wonder if there’s something about the water down in Hope…
7. “Scooter” Libby. Small potatoes. He was convicted of lying about telling the truth about a liar. It’s now firmly established that he did NOT “out” Valerie Plame to Roberk Novak (Novak says it was Richard Armitage, and Armitage has confirmed that), and his “lying” consisted of saying he did not remember something that prosecutors said he did.
8. Barack Obama. Like Giuliani, the charges are relatively minor, and I suspect his inclusion is also based more on his personal prominence than the weight of the allegations. The alleged financial improprieties seem more along the lines of Hillary Clinton’s cattle futures adventures than a sign of wholesale corruption.
9. Nancy Pelosi. Petty arrogance, with only one serious charge of seeking financial gain through her office. But it’s a hefty one — eight figures worth of bucks to end up in her husband’s pockets. Unfortunately, cluelessness and sheer ineptitude don’t qualify as “corruption,” or she’d be one of the guiltiest on the list.
10. Harry Reid. It seems the guy is dirty as hell, but no one wants to call him on it. But there’s one charge that is never laid against him, the one that ought to be the most damning these days — that he is a Mormon. For all the furor over one candidate for president being a member of that faith, it seems that no one remembers that the Senate Majority Leader — a man who wields far more actual power than Mitt Romney does now — also belongs to the Church of Jesus Christ Of Latter-Day Saints.
While I’m looking at that list (four Republicans and six Democrats, if anyone’s keeping count), I see one name glaringly absent from that list. And I know that Judicial Watch knows who William Jefferson is, because they listed him last year. Every single thing said about him then is still true, and the matter is still pending. He’s been removed from several sensitive committees, but that’s about it for a man whose corruption single-handedly triggered a Constitutional crisis.
I also find myself wondering if the list was prepared a while ago, before Al Sharpton became the subject of a federal investigation over his 2004 presidential campaign. Sharpton has a lengthy history of shall we say ‘questionable” actions and statements and positions, and he certainly should qualify as a “political figure.”
OK, I’ve tossed out five of Judicial Watch’s Top Ten, abut only offered two names to replace them. That still leaves four spots open. Who do you, the readers, think ought to be on that list? Remember, simply disliking someone or THINKING they’re vile isn’t sufficient. The bar is pretty high for the Top Ten — the standards set by Hillary Clinton, Dianne Feinstein, Mike Huckabee, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and William Jefferson.
And I’m also a smidgen disappointed that so few Republicans made the list. Four from the “culture of corruption,” and three of them for questionable reasons. There HAVE to have been a few Republicans who earned their way on to the naughty list this last year.