Thursday, April 27, 2006

Surber KO's "Beach Boy"

Al "Beach Boy" Mollohan goes down for the count in the first round vs. Don "Poca Kid" Surber:
This is genius. He deserves a Nobel Prize in political science for this discovery.

Mollohan's plan is simple. Get elected and re-elected 12 times. Send taxpayer money to groups headed by friends through congressional earmarks. Have friends contribute to your campaign and go halfsies on a beach house or a farm.

What could possibly go wrong?
Yeah, go read the whole thing, but please come back, because I'd like to score some easy pundit points here.

1. In addition to Avaricious Al's appetite for upscale real-estate, the Dems' real problem in West Virginia is that the state's economy keeps spiraling downward despite all those years of populist posturing by Democrats like Byrd and the Mollohans, Sr. & Jr. It's all fine and good to vote for the "party of the working man," right up until their idiotic policies start driving so many jobs out your state that you aren't working. For all of Byrd's pork-barrel prowess, there's only so much that New Deal-style make-work boondoggles can do to boost West Virginia's economy. Except for the Eastern Panhandle -- cheap real estate for D.C.-area retirees and commuters who can't afford to live in Germantown or Herndon -- the state is rapidly losing population. The Dems' environmental allies are hampering the coal industry, while the Dems' labor allies make W.Va. unattactive to manufacturing investors. States like Alabama, Kentucky and Mississippi are getting new industrial plants that West Virginia can't seem to attract.

2. It's important to distinguish between, on the one hand, cozying up to special interests in the hunt for campaign contributions -- which is what the Abramoff scandal is really about -- and , on the other hand, using one's office for personal enrichment. The suggestion made by Mollohan's antagonists is that he is guilty of the latter offense -- the same thing, basically, that sent "Duke" Cunnningham to federal prison. Some may say that it's worse to suck up to special interests, swapping legislative favors for campaign cash, but that sort of involves the assumption that whatever is good for the special interests (Big Oil, labor unions, George Soros, etc.) is bad for the country. I don't know: The Teamsters or the tobacco lobby (or Buddhist nuns) might occasionally be right about something, and collecting campaign cash is not illegal. But it is definitely wrong and illegal to get yourself elected to Congress -- a job that pays $160,000 a year -- and then prostitute your office so you can have a beach house off the Carolina coast.

3. Live by the class warfare, die by the class warfare. As soon as Surber posted the picture of Mollohan's beach house, I knew this was a big scandal, at least to West Virginia voters. If you're a guy working two jobs to support your wife and kids, and you've been voting Democrat for years because you figure they're "on your side," it's a mighty big kick in the head to pick up your newspaper and see that your Democratic congressman is living like ... well, like a Republican. The Mollohan scandal is, ultimately, less about a quid pro quo and more about "Little Al's got himself a beach house."

The Mollohan scandal perfectly highlights the "Party of the Rich" factor that we dissect in Chapter 9 of DONKEY CONS. The populist image and class-warfare rhetoric of Democrats clashes very sharply with the reality of a party that's dependent on millions of dollars in campaign cash from corporate donors (wait until you learn the truth about the Enron-Clinton connection), and whose leading figures are rich snobs like Nancy Pelosi, Ted Kennedy and John Kerry.


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About the book
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