The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Wednesday, October 13, 2004
 

DEWDROPs say No more Mr Nice Guy. (It says here...)


All politics are crooked [1]. Whatever the location, the era, the system of government, the rule holds. Some corruption will be criminalised, some morally stigmatised, still more accepted as according to Hoyle.

And, as they say, everything's bigger in America. The roll call of corruption is so long that even a kibitzer can pick up a litany: Crédit Mobilier, the Tweed Ring [2], Teapot Dome - various political machines (mostly Democratic [3]), some of which were a key element in Franklin Roosevelt's national machine [4].

But wishful thinking supposes that it is possible to do politics by the Marquess of Queensbury's rules [5]. And the delusion is compounded by Gunnar Myrdal's American Dilemma - the particular propensity of Americans to make grandiose political statements that no one is expected to take literally, if at all:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal
being only the most notable example [6].

And, currently, liberals measure their moral comfort zone by their distance from the practices of that Modern Machiavelli, Tom DeLay. They would put nothing past him [7]. By comparison, they are choirboys. A comparison which damns DeLay, but gives them a whole lot of room for manoeuvre.

Now, Kos and the (some, at least) Kossacks have apparently decided to get down in the gutter with the GOP - starting with some dirt on the GOP candidate for NY-29, one John Kuhl [8].

Is this wise? Rove, DeLay and Co are clearly not held back by their own Jiminy Crickets from unloading the slurry cart on their opponents. It's perceptions of likely voter reaction that would be the main limiting factor, I'm thinking.

And, if the Dems are perceived as having escalated the war, voters might well think that justified a compensating escalation on the GOP side (even if the GOP is already much higher up the ladder.)

Plus Dem escalation might make weaker GOP brethren more sanguine about dishing Dem dirt.

  1. In honour of pre-decimal currency, Brits and Aussies of a certain age might say bent as a nine bob note. (There never was such a thing: there was a ten bob note (bob = shilling) which - the UK version, at least - had a rather short life.) Homosexuality and corruption described by the same slang phrase - the makings of a Ph D thesis there, surely...

  2. A short list of Gilded Age corruption.

  3. From memory, only Pennsylvania contained comparable GOP operations.

  4. As discussed here several times before.

    What looks, from the most cursory inspection, to be an excellent series of a dozen papers from a July 2004 conference Corruption and Reform: Lessons from America's History. What is online are drafts - whether the URLs will go dead when the papers are finally published, I know not.

    Also this - World Net Daily! - on D.C. press galleries' history of corruption.

  5. On which Don King is, of course, a noted expert.

  6. Politicians of all nations talk bollocks all the time: Myrdal - I haven't got his book to hand - seeks to distinguish this universal condition from the peculiarly virulent American strain of the disease. (Myrdal is concerned with race, of course; but comparable dilemmas occur in other fields too. In foreign policy, for instance: crusading on behalf of our little brown brothers has usually come with a United Fruit Company sponsorship.)

  7. Except that I've not seen it alleged anywhere that DeLay has ordered anyone to be clipped. The desperation to muddy the guy's name may be judged from this piece - alleging a lameass 'connection' with a mob hit.

    (The same piece mentions that DeLay funds have taken wampum from gaming Indians.)

  8. (Savour the censer-swinging explanation of the guy putting the 'incriminating' JPEGs online: from the style, I suspect him of authoring the anonymity pretexts for the New York Times...


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