People, it is said, are judged by the company they keep.
GOP Presidential wannabe Fred Thompson jets around the country on a plane owned by a drug dealer.
A top fundraiser for Democratic Presidential frontrunner Hillary Rodham Clinton turned out to be a criminal on the lam.
Even holier-than-thou Mormon Mitt Romney found himself saddled with a top aide who posed as a cop and then ran like hell when another supporter, Sen. Larry Craig, copped a plea for trying to get a blowjob in an airport men’s room.
At least one member of the administration of every President for the last 40 years has gone to jail for criminal activity. So have 217 men and women who have served, at one time or another, in Congress.
We are a nation ruled by criminals and led by Presidents who associate with lawbreakers.
Former Nixon White House Counsel John Dean served time in the federal pen for his part in the Watergate fiasco. In his book, Blind Ambition, Dean talked about spending time in stir with Mafia hit men who told him that Nixon was a “bad President and an even worse crook.” Good crooks, they said, don’t get caught.
So if you apply that standard to the crooks that dominate our government, it’s easy to see why this nation is in so much trouble. We can’t even elect good crooks to office.
Perhaps our problem stems from a human fascination with crooks. They become folklore legends: Billy the Kid, Jesse James, Al Capone, John Dillinger, John Gotti. A criminal conviction adds to a crook’s marketability. Gordon Liddy went to jail for his role in Watergate and came out with a book deal and a radio gig.
Consider this: More than 500 best selling books from the last 25 years were written by ex-cons who capitalized on their crimes and their time in prison. More than half the producers of television and movies in Hollywood have criminal records, mostly drug-related offenses. So do many actors and actresses. Many of the stories about suspended Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick, headed for jail on dog fighting charges, have focused not on the heinous nature of his crimes but on the effect the conviction will have on his “marketability” and the Falcons Super Bowl chances.
Former Ohio Congressman Jim Trafficant went to jail for conspiracy but current Congressman James Moran of Virginia is a known wife beater with a record of assaulting anyone who disagrees with him, including his colleagues in Congress.
Former GOP Congressional leader Tom DeLay is still under investigation and indictment for multiple crimes but shows up on political talk shows as a “political expert.” So does John Dean, an ex-con who not only went to jail for his crimes but escaped further punishment by ratting out his boss.
As a society we have become dismissive of those who break the law. Scandal dominates so much of the news that we suffer from scandal fatigue and look for ways to accept, not condemn, criminal behavior.
So should we be surprised when so many of our candidates for President surround themselves with criminals and others with questionable ethics?
We’re not surprised but we should be upset.
Sadly, the fact that we are not may be the most criminal part of this whole mess.