Thursday, November 16, 2006

Murtha and Carville

I spent almost an hour this afternoon watching the hidden-camera video of Congressman Jack Murtha discussing a shady deal with an undercover FBI agent pretending to represent an Arab businessman who wanted to move to the United States. In the video, Murtha doesn't come off as badly as some others, but he doesn't come out smelling lily fresh, either. Murtha repeatedly says words to the effect of, "Don't give me a bribe, just invest in my district, create jobs in my district — oh, and by the way, invest in some specific banks and companies to help me politically." He also makes a point of saying that, although he is refusing a bribe for now, the situation might change down the road a bit — oh, and by the way, those other two Congressmen who recommended me, they are expecting some cash under the table. The video is from the ABSCAM scandal in 1980, so it's a long time ago, but, notwithstanding his powerful statements on the Iraq war, I'm glad that Murtha lost today's vote for House Majority Leader. The Democrats need to be truly the party of ethics reform, and Jack Murtha can never be the poster boy. In the ABSCAM video, Murtha talks about being careful to protect his future in the Congressional leadership, but he wasn't careful enough.

Then there's James Carville, a long-time Democratic Party strategist, who savagely attacked Howard Dean, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, saying that his leadership was "Rumsfeldian in its competence." Carville claims that the Democrats could have won possibly as many as 15 more seats with better targeting of ad buys in close races. The issue with Carville's statement is its public nature and its timing. Why on earth did James Carville want to rain on the parade as Democrats celebrated taking the House and Senate for the first time in 12 years? It certainly comes off as a "circular firing squad," to use the popular metaphor. In particular, the timing creates the appearance that Carville is placing some other interest above both his party and his country.

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