October 5, 2006

How it should be done

The Washington Post has an article by Joseph Califano, Jr. comparing the behavior of current House leadership and that of the House leadership back in 1982.

When the House Could Clean Itself

By Joseph A. Califano Jr.
Wednesday, October 4, 2006; Page A25

The most troubling aspect of the Mark Foley scandal is not his conduct, disgusting as it was, but what the response of the leadership reveals about the rancid state of partisanship and the consequent decline of the House of Representatives. Speaker Dennis Hastert presides over a legislative body so infested with mistrust that it doesn't even have a functioning ethics committee. Since the House is incapable of washing its own dirty laundry and policing itself, the speaker has to turn over that responsibility to the attorney general and the executive branch of government.

Compare the current situation with the way Speaker Tip O'Neill and the House handled the last scandal involving sexual misconduct with pages, in the summer of 1982.

[...]

When I reported our findings to O'Neill and Michel, the dishonor that these members had brought on the House infuriated the two leaders. "Get it out," they said, "and let the committee recommend disciplinary action," which its four Democratic and four Republican members did, unanimously, in July 1983. Crane and Studds were censured by the House. Crane resigned his seat. Studds chose to stay on and was retained in office by his constituents for 13 more years.

[...]

The course the House took in that scandal, and its reaction to the current one, show the difference between a leadership that saw a threat to the integrity of the House of Representatives and one that sees a threat to its continuing control of the institution. It's useful today to remember that there was a time when partisanship took second place to trust and the House leadership had the strength to wash its own dirty laundry.

So, if they won't clean House...I guess it's up to us. Vote for change on November 7th.

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