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The impossible dream of reform

By Doug Thompson
June 12, 2006

Washington, we have a problem. In order to reform Congress, Congress has to first agree to reform itself. That’s like asking a nymphomaniac to give up sex.

After a lot of lofty rhetoric about the need for reform, the best the so-called Republican leadership of Congress can come up with is to keep things pretty much as they are. That’s right: No ban on lavish freebie trips from lobbyists and no curtailment on the ability of fatcat special interest groups to buy votes.

Don’t count on help from the Democrats in ending the bribe-taking mentality on the Hill. Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid says trying to curtail the use of corporate jets by members of Congress is a "complicated issue that requires hearings." He said this right after the Rules committee completed a long series of hearings on just that subject. Then he joined with fellow bribe-taker, Mississippi Republican Trent Lott, to block a vote to force lawmakers to pay the full cost of using corporate jets.

This is the problem with Congress. You can’t expect a gaggle of crooks, con-artists and thieves to clean up their act. They don’t want to. You can’t make reform a partisan issue. It’s not. Both sides are on the take and neither side wants to stop living large when somebody else is paying the bill.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist is a crook, an insider trader who got rich dumping his Hospital Corporation of America stock at a big-time profit while ordinary investors in the company got hosed. Reid, who leads the Democrats, is no shining example of political purity either. He jets around the county at lobbyist expense, accepts free wrestling credentials from casino promoters and pockets lavish campaign contributions from Nevada gambling interests.

In the House, the GOP poster child for corruption – Tom DeLay – gave up his majority leader post under protest and the Republicans replaced him with John Boehner, another fast-talking con artist who takes free lavish vacations from lobbyists and rewards them with votes and other legislative favors.

Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi ignored the many crimes of corrupt Democrats like William Jefferson of Louisiana and Allen Mollohan of West Virginia before being forced into taking long-overdue action. Pelosi, like her Republican counterpart, Speaker Dennis J. Hastert, spends a good deal of time in the air with her butt in the soft leather seat of lavish GulfStream private jets as a pampered guest of corporate greed.

This is reform? I don’t think so and reform will be impossible as long as each side of the bitter partisan divide in Congress, and the public, thinks corruption is the sole province of the other side and refuses to acknowledge that they too are part of the problem.

In Las Vegas last week, a gaggle of left-wing bloggers gathered for a very mainstream-like convention called YearlyKos – a well-orchestrated public relations gambit by the Democratic web site, Daily Kos.

Reporters flocked to the convention as well and – between free drinks and trips to the blackjack tables – delivered breathless prose about how the "blogosphere" may be the driving force for real change in the political system.

It’s been interesting watching the liberal blogs go into an orgy of self-congratulation over the publicity from the event and talk at length about how all this will, somehow, lead to real reform.

It won’t. YearlyKos was just more partisan blather in a political world where partisanship replaces principle, bias replaces truth and one-sided debate masquerades as sincerity.

One of the event’s main speakers was Democratic Senator Harry Reid, the same "I’m for sale" Democratic leader who joined with Republicans to block any serious attempt at reform in the Senate.

If the powers that be had any real interest in reform and "saving America" as they claim, they would have told Reid that he wasn’t welcome on the podium because he, like the Republicans he helped to defeat reform, was just another lying, corrupt example of the problems that are dragging this country into the abyss.

But they didn’t. They welcomed Reid with open arms because he is, after all, a fellow Democrat and that makes all crimes forgivable in the partisan political world.

Which is why YearlyKos was nothing more than a another partisan political event run by party hacks whose self-serving interests do not include what may or may not be in the best interests of America.

Just like Congress.