A Straight Shot of Politics

A blog from a gentleman of the Liberal political persuasion dedicated to right reason, clear thinking, cogent argument, and the public good.

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Location: Columbus, Ohio, United States

I have returned from darkness and quiet. I used to style myself as "Joe Claus", Santa Claus’ younger brother because that is what I still look like. I wrote my heart out about liberal politics until June of 2006, when all that could be said had been said. I wrote until I could write no more and I wrote what I best liked to read when I was young and hopeful: the short familiar essays in Engish and American periodicals of 50 to 100 years ago. The archetype of them were those of G.K. Chesterton, written in newspapers and gathered into numerous small books. I am ready to write them again. I am ready to write about life as seen by the impoverished, by the mentally ill, by the thirty years and more of American Buddhist converts, and by the sharp eyed people [so few now in number] with the watcher's disease, the people who watch and watch and watch. I am all of these.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Everybody's Got A Hungry Heart

Got a wife and kids in Baltimore, Jack.
I went out for a ride and I never went back.
Like a river that don't know where it's flowing,
I took a wrong turn and I just kept going.

Jack Abramoff fall down go boom to the tune of eleven years in Club Fed.

He is likely to take a fair number of Republican office holders with him, maybe a few members of the Executive Branch, maybe two or three news reporters, and, perhaps, a stray Democrat here and there. It is being touted in the media as the biggest corruption scandal in 50 years. We'll see.

We're all adults here. We know that corruption and influence peddling knows no partisanship. But it is still the case that, for the past ten years, the Republican Party has done everything it could, quite successfully, to corral every last quid pro quo from the K Street lobbyists like Abramoff. This started under Newt Gingrich and has continued under Trent Lott, Dennis Hastert, Bill Frist, and Tom DeLay. So when any or all of them fall into corruption, then the Party as a whole has sown the wind, and, if they reap the whirlwind, I'll be cheering on the sidelines.

I'll be cheering for more than Republican downfall. No one can end corruption permanently, but an explosion of this magnitude will result in cleaner government for some little time after. This definitely beats a blank.

More importantly, Howard Dean has done record setting off-year fundraising for the DNC. And this with virtually no K Street involvement at all. This is a refreshing change from the smarmy days of Terry McAuliffe. Nothing would please me more than a Congressional class of 2006--with lots of new Democratic faces--having no indebtedness whatsoever to Washington lobbyists. No guarantees, but it looks like we might get this. If anyone holding office wishes to stay clean, that is the place to start.

Further, McAuliffe had the nasty habit of appropriating for the national committee all the money that got raised on fundraising trips outside of Washington. Dean has stopped this and made his tireless fundraising tours a showpiece for local party organization building. Because of Dean, out here in places like Ohio we will finally be able to mount state and local campaigns without fighting a playing field with a 30 degree slope.

Even with this, Dean's national fundraising has set an off-year record.

My good friend the Anchoress made the following prediction for New Year's Eve:

Howard Dean will not be DNC chair by the end of the year. He will be replaced by affable eye candy of some sort, capable of bumper-sticker-speak.

When I read this, I managed to keep a straight face and, since I had less evidence than I like to support my inner mirth, I didn't contest it. As my Conservative blogging friends know well, I'm a big fan of using evidence to support an opinion, a bigger fan, I think, than most of them are.

I now have the evidence. Dean delivers. He not only delivers nationally, he delivers locally. It was us folks in the local parties that put him in the DNC chairmanship in the first place, and I don't think we'll abandon him any time soon--a few blunt and thorny remarks notwithstanding.

A while back, I gave the Anchoress a piece of advice. I'll reiterate it. Don't bother watching what Harry Reid does. Under current conditions as Senate Majority Leader, he can't do that much. But listen carefully to what he says. What Reid says is where the Democratic Party as a whole is likely to gravitate at the end of the day.

Conversely, don't pay that much attention to what Howard Dean says. Part of his job is to play the role of "Howard Dean, Loose Cannon"--the media narrative that was forced on him in 2004. This allows him to articulate strong opinions from the Democratic base satisfyingly, and with a minimum of fuss, because, of course, he's just being Howard Dean.

But pay very close attention to what Dean does. As I said before, Dean delivers.

Incidentally, one of the most impressive things about Dean personally is that he figured out how to use the narrative the media attached to him rather than to fight it. It took a lot of intelligence and a rock solid, psychologically healthy, self-esteem to pull that off.

The self-aggrandisement of Abramoff, DeLay ["I am the Federal Government."] , and everybody else falling down and going boom is anything but psychologically healthy. It is the mark of the touchy, the thin-skinned, and the insecure.

Whether your thin skin tempts you to corruption, or your corruption thins your skin, comes down to the same thing in the end:

Everybody's got a hungry heart.
Everybody's got a hungry heart.
Lay down your money and you play your part...