Do campaign promises fit down Gitmo's toilets?
By Frank Salvato
There's a new sheriff in town, I'm sorry, I meant Speaker of the House, and her name is Nancy Pelosi. Gone are the days of partisan politics. The era of "can't we all just get along" is now upon us, ushered in with Pelosi-palooza. The swamp is drained and the culture of corruption is no more. Right…and Qurans fit down the toilets at Gitmo.
The Democrats weren't officially in control of Congress for more than a day and already campaign promises were being tossed aside. For all the talk of "change," "reform" and "cooperation" that took place during the campaign, it looks like the Democrats, under Pelosi in the House and Harry Reid in the Senate, are quite content with politics as usual: disingenuous rhetoric for the American people and the spoils of political victory for the party.
One of the more glaring examples of the Democrats' "bait and switch" politicking comes in the form of Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer preparing to hammer through their one-hundred hour agenda without allowing or entertaining input from the minority party. This would be typical of partisan congressional politics if it weren't for the fact that Pelosi made bi-partisan cooperation a chief talking point during the election cycle. By refusing to live up to their campaign mantra of cooperative government over partisan politics, the Democratic leadership in the House has effectively lied to the faces of every American who voted them into power.
Many of the more liberal persuasion may employ the tired tactic of trying to justify bad behavior by spotlighting other bad behavior, advancing the excuse that it's fine for Democrats to pursue this line of partisan politics because Republicans have done the same in the past. To those readers I say, "Irrelevant!" What does anyone else's past actions have to do with Pelosi and Hoyer promising one thing and doing exactly the opposite? Facts are facts and the American people have been sold a "do as I say and not as I do" bill of goods from a political machine that had absolutely no intention of fulfilling its promises from the beginning.
In fact, if I were a conspiracy theorist – which I am not – I would probably go as far as to suppose that Pelosi and her neo-progressives cooked the "bait and switch" strategy up at Pelosi's Northern California compound, that it was all premeditated and planned in advance. But then that would be crazy talk not unlike the insane notions that the Iraq War was cooked up at President Bush's Crawford, Texas ranch or that the US Government was behind September 11th.
Another campaign promise that was obliterated after the election was the promise to clean-up corruption on Capitol Hill. Sure, Pelosi and her crew are ramming an ethics bill through in their exclusive one-hundred hour agenda, but that doesn't address the fact that there are many in the Democratic Party – some who will take over congressional committee chairmanships – who don't even have the word ethics in their vocabularies.
US Rep. John Conyers, Democrat from Michigan, assumed the chairmanship of the House Judiciary Committee upon the swearing in of the 110th Congress. Conyers, an incredible political partisan to say the least, has repeatedly called for President Bush's impeachment, going as far as to hold mock impeachment hearings in congressional meeting rooms.
But I doubt that Conyers will be talking about his recent acknowledgment to ethics violations when he is sipping wine at Pelosi-palooza and patting the other ethically challenged members of the Democratic Party on the back for campaigns well executed.
What's that you say? You didn't hear anything about Conyers and any ethics violations? I'm not surprised. His official statement and information about the termination of the investigation were released to the public late on Friday, December 29, 2006, the Friday before a long holiday weekend.
Conyers "accepted responsibility" – a watered down way to admit culpability – for violating House rules by requiring his congressional staff to perform campaign-related and personal work while on the congressional payroll. Some of these important duties included babysitting his children and running personal errands.
In the world of politics, especially at the national level, everyone involved understands beyond any doubt that mixing political campaign activity with official government business – including the utilization of personnel from one to do tasks for the other – is strictly prohibited. There is no chance that an incumbent congressman would be ignorant to this fact. Therefore, it can be surmised that Conyers simply didn't care about adhering to the rule; a strange attitude for someone who will chair the House Judiciary Committee.
Add to Conyers' assault on congressional ethics John Murtha's Abscam un-indicted co-conspirator status, Alcee Hastings' very real judicial impeachment, Alan Mollohan's financial malfeasance and $90,000 in cold hard cash – literally – in William Jefferson's freezer (and these are just four examples) and it is appropriate to say that Congressional Democrats have a deeply embedded ethics problem that most likely won't be cured by the ethics reform proposal included in the Democratic one-hundred hour agenda.
But the most transparent example of how fraudulent the Democrats' call for bi-partisan cooperation comes in the form of disrespect and in this example I highlight the fact that there were a few Republican collaborators involved. They too are part of the problem.
As the nation observed an official national day of mourning to recognize the passing of President Gerald R. Ford, the Senate Majority Leader and his second, Harry Reid and Dick Durbin respectively, found it too important to meet with the president of Peru than to cut short a planned junket to attend funeral ceremonies. Admittedly, there were a few others along on the trip, among them some Republicans, but that simply proves that the problem of political arrogance transcends the aisle. This culture of arrogance, of disrespect for the man and the office, exemplifies the problem of politics over government prevalent in our nation today.
Democrats have inundated the airwaves since November 7th claiming to have been the recipients of a voter mandated demand for change. That's only partly true. The American voters did vote for change but they didn't vote for change directed by the vanity of the Democratic old-guard leadership or any old-guard leadership for that matter. The American people's idea of change has more to do with removing the political status quo in general from government than it does simply changing political course.
Americans are tired of ineffective government that, at best, sits second seat to the political well-being of two political parties and special interest groups. We are tired of those we elect going to Washington and conveniently forgetting who they represent, choosing instead to serve the whims of their political leaders over the needs of their constituencies. We are tired of the disrespect, the name calling, the partisan attitudes and the egos emanating from both sides of the aisle. The change American voters have mandated is a change for the better, a return to the days of political civility and honest debate, a return to good government; we demand government over politics.
As the 110th Congress commences with its version of bi-partisan cooperative government, a version that sees the minority party ignored in the first one-hundred hours of the legislative process, I am not hopeful that the voters' mandate for change was understood. Then again, I'm pretty sure that the new "sheriff" in Washington couldn't care less.
Frank Salvato is the managing editor for The New Media Journal. He serves at the Executive Director of the Basics Project, a non-profit, non-partisan, 501(C)(3) research and education initiative. His pieces are regularly featured in over 100 publications both nationally and internationally. He has appeared on The O'Reilly Factor, and is a regular guest on The Right Balance with Greg Allen on the Accent Radio Network, as well as an occasional guest on numerous radio shows coast to coast. He recently partnered in producing the first-ever symposium on the threat of radical Islamist terrorism in Washington, DC. His pieces have been recognized by the House International Relations Committee and the Japan Center for Conflict. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.