Obama's Ethics Problem

What should we make of Senator Chris Dodd’s stonewalling on the matter of his preferred treatment as a “Friend(s) of Anthony” recipient of preferred mortgage terms from Countrywide Financial? (The phrase refers to the former CEO of Countrywide, Anthony Mozillo). The Democrat Senator, as Chairman of the very Committee that conducts oversight of banks and lending (Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs) owes taxpayers an explanation of the terms and conditions of a loan he personally received from the failed bank (which bank has cost taxpayers tens of billions of dollars). Dodd promised during the 2008 campaign to make this information available but has to date refused to do so. Dodd’s obfuscation and delaying tactics are wearily familiar. No lucid observer of his problem would suggest a good outcome.

Representative Charles Rangel, another Democrat in charge of an important Committee (House Ways and Means) is under a cloud of suspicion (including an Ethics Committee investigation) for abusing campaign finance laws and the very tax laws over which he conducts oversight. No lucid observer of Rangel’s problem would suggest a good outcome.

Timothy Geithner, President elect Obama’s appointee for Secretary of the Treasury, has demonstrated his contempt for IRS laws that compel him to pay self employment taxes. This is the same IRS that will be under his thumb if his appointment as Treasury Secretary is approved. No lucid observer of Geithner’s problem would suggest a good outcome. Turmoil at Treasury it is not a good thing right now.

Is there is a rot at the core of the Democrat Party? If we heed Santayana’s and Yogi’s well known admonition (to paraphrase) that those who choose to ignore history are doomed to déjà vu all over again then, yes, there is. Rangel and Dodd remind me of the base ethics that characterized the House Post Office check kiting scandal of the 1980’s. Geithner is beginning to smell ripe: he may be brilliant, but his tax problems are so uncomplicated as to beg small businesses everywhere to ask the proverbial question:” What were you thinking”?

For the easy marks that still believe hope and change will be the hallmark of the Obama administration a necessary dose of reality is in order. The Democrat Congress and the President elect’s own cabinet may prove to be the end of Obama’s hope and change, an unending minuet of ethical lapses, possibly criminal wrongdoing and failed trust much like the Post Office scandal that brought down Foley and Rostenkowski.

Think not? Consider that President Clinton didn’t come into office with remotely similar Congressional problems yet faced an historic change in his first mid term election. Next week’s aura may fade fast. For those inclined to sentimentality and weepiness during this next week I would suggest a heavy dose of cold water soon thereafter to ward off the effects of imminent disappointment.

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