Jefferson Gets the Cold Shoulder


The long saga of Rep. William Jefferson (D-La.) developed a new kink yesterday, as Democrats voted to kick the cash-hoarding congressman off the Ways and Means committee. The guys who have to clean the committee's meat freezer are pleased; Jefferson and the leader of the Congressional Black Caucus are not.

Asked if he thought race was a factor in Pelosi's decision, Jefferson replied before the vote, "It's not happened before. The first time it's happening, it's happening to an African-American."

[CBC Chairman Mel] Watt warned last week that singling out Jefferson would not be received well by black voters.

Thursday, he said, "Our constituents will import their own interpretation into this, and a number of them will import that there's a different standard in our caucus based on race."

Watt's head-scratching demogoguery obscures one of the reasons Democrats were so eager to wish Jefferson into the cornfield; he didn't vote the way they wanted. Even though he represents a rock-solid Democratic district, he stiffed the party on 2005's bankruptcy reform bill. Maryland's Al Wynn, another black Democrat who voted for that bill, is facing a semi-serious primary challenge this year. Jefferson would probably be primaried this year, too, if his New Orleans district wasn't such a basket case that the need for a non-bribed congressman falls somewhere between "clean up 10-month-old trash" and "police Katrina fraud."

This is probably a minority opinion, but I feel Jefferson's biggest crime—deserving of congressional expulsion, the loss of his pension, maybe 100 sit-ups—is his crushing boring-ness. The man took bribes from a shady African company and wrapped the cash in foil, and he's offered absolutely zero stupid excuses or hilarious lies to wriggle his way out of the scandal. His first spin was that "there are two sides to every story." What the hell is that supposed to mean? Why can't he claim that he actually enjoys the taste of money after it's deep-freezed and dusted with breading? Why not claim that a goddamn bitch set him up?