A Challenge to Democrats and the Lefty Blogosphere
In its election recap, the Washington Post reports the following from the state of West Virginia:
In the 1st District, Rep. Alan B. Mollohan (D) survived a year of congressional scandal, defeating state Del. Christopher Wakim (R) to earn a 13th term. Mollohan overcame his dismissal from the House ethics committee, investigations of his real estate dealings and allegations that he used his influence to shift millions of taxpayer dollars to friends and relatives. Mollohan will keep his Appropriations Committee seat.
Throughout the state, any sense of suspense ended for unnamed schools, bridges and dams: Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D) won a ninth term over John Raese (R), positioning Byrd to extend his record as longest-serving U.S. senator and top Democrat on the Appropriations Committee.
Here's the challenge: Mollohan is, to say the least, "ethically challenged." There's no sensible reason for him to retain his seat on the most powerful committee in the House of Representatives. If Nancy Pelosi is serious about "draining the swamp," she'll kick Mollohan off the appropriations committee before she pounds her first gavel.
As for Byrd, his history of earmarking excesses makes Ted Stevens look like Ron Paul. Earmarking is little more than legalized corruption. It's buying votes. Not only did Robert Byrd perfect the practice, he's the one who put a "secret hold" on a bill that wouldn't have even eliminated the practice, but would merely have added a bit of transparency to it. Democrats who rightly railed against the "Bridge to Nowhere" can't be taken seriously if they sit back and let Byrd resume diverting millions of taxpayer dollars to wasteful pork projects in West Virginia. Harry Reid should remove him from the Senate Appropriations Committee.
It won't be easy—Byrd in particular is likely to raise holy hell. But if you're going to change the culture of corruption in Washington, you'd go a long way toward demonstrating your seriousness by starting with your own party.
It would also be nice to see the lefty blogs pick up on this, and give Pelosi and Reid the cover they need to do the right thing.
UPDATE: Several readers have written to point out that Pelosi is set to pass over Rep. Jane Harman to make Rep. Alcee Hastings chair of the Intelligence Committee. Hastings is of course a formal federal judge who was impeached and removed from the bench by a Democratic Congress in 1989 for taking bribes. Apparently, the Congressional Black Caucus is demanding a chairmanship for Hastings to compensate for the loss of influence caused by Rep. William Jefferson's removal from the Appropriations Committee—also due to corruption.
This, within 72 hours of the election. Meet the new boss…
ANOTHER UPDATE: Glenn Reynolds links to this post, calling it a case of libertarian "buyer's remorse." Not exactly. I still think the GOP needed to lose this election. And I'm glad they did. But supporting the Dems in the election doesn't mean we give them a pass now that they've won.