Tuesday, June 06, 2006

How the GOP handles scandal

Our blogger buddy George Roberts points out that Kentucky Republicans are standing up against indicted Gov. Ernie Fletcher -- a fellow Republican:
In the latest twist of political intrigue within Republican ranks, Gov. Ernie Fletcher's top spokesman claimed Friday that the Kentucky GOP chairman is part of a faction that "wants the governor out."

Fletcher spokesman Brett Hall said the group includes some Republican Party officials, and despite overtures from the governor's office "the signals ... we get from them are that basically we're on our own and they're not there for us."

"There is a faction -- and Darrell Brock seems to be in the middle of it - that want the governor out and has been working on this for some time," Hall said in a phone interview.

Hall's comments came on the eve of a Republican state central committee meeting that will cap a turbulent week in which Lt. Gov. Steve Pence announced he wouldn't seek a second term, declined to endorse Fletcher and dug in his heels when the embattled governor demanded his resignation from office.

Pence's announcement came a few weeks after Fletcher, Kentucky's first Republican governor since 1971, was indicted on misdemeanor charges alleging he broke state law by rewarding political supporters with state jobs after he took office in 2003. Last summer, he issued a blanket pardon for anyone in his administration who might face charges in the probe - - except himself. ...

Brock, who himself defied Fletcher's demands last year that he resign as party chairman, responded that Hall "hasn't bothered with the facts" and chalked up the remarks to a "vivid imagination or political paranoia."

Go read the whole thing. It looks like Fletcher was trying to run the kind of "spoils" patronage scam that Thomas Jefferson invented and Andrew Jackson perfected. (See Chapter 3 of DONKEY CONS.) In fact, in places like Chicago and New Orleans, patronage and cronyism remain common features of the Democratic Party's urban machine politics (Chapter 8).

The Democrats' long, inglorious history of patronage is why it's so ridiculous for Democrats to try to score political points by accusing the Bush administration of "cronyism" -- even when it's true, it's still the pot calling the kettle black. Especially during the first term, the Clinton White House was notoriously stacked with Bill and Hillary's old Arkansas pals like Vince Foster, Web Hubbell and the folks who brought us the "Travelgate" and "Filegate" scandals.

Fletcher probably figured turnabout is fair play, and thought to rid the state bureaucracy of a lot of deadwood left behind by years of Democratic government in Kentucky (something similar was attempted in Maryland by a guy in the Ehrlich administration.) But there's a right way and a wrong way to do things, and it looks like Fletcher tried to do things the wrong way. He ought to have enough sense to step down rather than hurt the GOP, and so it's good to see Kentucky Republicans with enough guts to call Fletcher's bluff.

This is how Republicans have historically handled scandal, a marked contrast to Democrats -- a Democrat like Don Siegelman in Alabama thinks he can get elected while on trial for corruption. Patrick Kennedy goes to the Mayo Clinic. Harry Reid says he's keeping every penny he got from Abramoff's clients. Not a single Senate Democrat voted against Bill Clinton. Ted Kennedy's still in the Senate, and Mary Jo Kopechne's still dead.

But when a Republican gets caught with his ethics down, what happens? The Republicans tell him it's time to go. Jack Abramoff? Pleaded guilty, cooperating with investigators, went to prison. Randy "Duke" Cunningham? Pleaded guilty, resigned from office, went to prison. Tom DeLay, resigning from Congress. It's been this way at least since Watergate when Republican National Committee chairman George H.W. Bush was the guy who told Nixon: "Mr. President, you need to resign."

Democrats seem to make it a matter of principle to stay in office no matter how bad their scandals get. Al Mollohan and William Jefferson still haven't resigned, Harry Reid's still the boss of Senate Democrats, Rahm "Hired Truck" Emanuel's still running the Democrats' House election committee, Patrick Kennedy's running for re-election, and Capitol Hill police officers still have to smile and say, "Good morning" every time Cynthia McKinney walks past.

That's why the "culture of corruption" scam keeps blowing up in the Democrats' faces.

-- McCAIN

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