Almost daily, a missive arrives announcing a new effort to “clean up politics.”
Usually, these breathless announcements come from one or the other political parties.
Their efforts are always aimed at the laughable assumption that one political party in this country is responsible for all the corruption in politics and the other (the one announcing the clean up) is blessed with purity and clean hands.
Which, of course, is bullshit. Like most of the viruses that affect the political power structure in this nation, corruption crosses all party lines, infects all political philosophies and drives most of the posturing and spin.
Political corruption runs in cycles, normally favoring the party in power. But its stain is universal, its appeal non-partisan and its presence ecumenical.
This “we’re always right and you’re always wrong” nonsense rose to a deafening roar during the Trent Lott “I love a racist” debacle. Democrats pounced on Lott’s stupidity like mad dogs in a feeding frenzy, declaring him the poster child of Republican racism and the root of all problems faced by black people during the last 230 years.
Republicans responded by declaring themselves pure of thoughts and deed and claiming Democrats are the real racists.
The sad fact is that neither party would recognize the truth if it walked up and kicked them in the balls. Truth split town a long time ago, tired of being misquoted and misused by both parties in their endless search for the perfect spin.
Truth cannot exist in an environment where posturing prevails and facts are subject to “interpretation.” Truth disappears in a political system where “positions” are accepted as fact and reality is blurred by party doctrine.
Republicans love to dump on their favorite whipping boy – the scandal-scarred and morally-challenged William Jefferson Clinton. True, a sex-crazed President who whips out the First Member and jams it into willing interns makes a good target and kicking him almost seems too easy.
But the party of the elephants has its own closet full of skeletons. Let’s not forget Richard Milhous Nixon, who also lied to the American people, tried to subvert the constitution or generally ignored the law of the land.
Yeah, we know. Old history. OK. How about a present-day scumbag named Admiral John Poindexter? He directed an arms for hostages swap with Iran during the Reagan days, then lied about it to Congress and would have ended up in jail had not a too-hastily-crafted immunity deal kept him out of the slammer.
So where’s Poindexter now? Oh, toiling away in the Bush administration, directing the creation of a massive database that will track the day-to-day financial transactions of all Americans. This project, called the Total Information Awareness System, has been called the greatest threat to individual freedom and privacy in modern times.
Most political history, past and present, is tainted by this kind of hypocrisy. Bill Clinton porked interns but was investigated by a Congressional committee chaired by Dan Burton, an Indiana Republican with his own history of tail chasing (including putting his lover on the payroll and bringing her to Washington).
Democrats claimed Trent Lott exemplified Republican racism but carefully avoided West Virginia Democratic Senator Robert Byrd’s past membership in the Ku Klux Klan.
So stop bugging me with all these hallow claims of purity and false promises to clean up politics.
The sad truth is that all sides of the political spectrum in Washington are dominated by liars, crooks and thieves.
Whatever their stated claim or goal, the result is always the same.
We get screwed.
And we don’t even get kissed first.