Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Jefferson to Punish Democratic Colleagues

So Democrats had hoped that one of their big issues this Fall would be their vow to change the 'Culture of Corruption.' That effort is hurt of course, by a slew of examples of unethical or questionable behavior by Democrats. Jim McDermott, John Conyers, Patrick Kennedy, Cynthia McKinney, Alan Mollohan, Bill Jefferson - all have committed ethical or other transgressions that make it impossible for Democrats to argue that they are 'cleaner' than Republicans.

Now Representative Bill Jefferson - who commandeered a National Guard chopper during Hurricane Katrina to help him spirit who-knows-what out of his flooded house - has let his colleagues know that he won't resign if indicted. If it wasn't hard enough already for Democrats to make gains on the ethics issue, it will be even harder with Jefferson hanging around.

The other worrisome thing for Democrats is that while such damaged officials are frequently dispatched by the voters in the primary, Jefferson looks likely to face a number of Democratic challengers. He might therefore be able to win the primary with a sliver of the total vote. If that's the case, Jefferson could be around quite some time. Or - in the NRCC dream scenario - he might emerge so badly damaged on election day that a Republican challenger could have a shot in a normally safe Democratic seat.

OK, I'm kind of blowing smoke with that last one, but still...

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