Reform And Chaff

WHY MY OSTENSIBLE PARTY, THE DEMOCRATS, WILL NOT BE ABLE TO USE BUSH’S CORPORATE HISTORY AGAINST HIM

From today’s NY Times

The bill, which has been vigorously opposed by consumer-rights groups, had long been the top legislative priority of credit card companies and some banks, which insist that many debtors abuse the bankruptcy laws to escape debts they should be able to pay. The companies sharply stepped up campaign contributions to members of Congress in recent years as they promoted the legislation.

Among the biggest beneficiaries would be the MBNA Corporation of Delaware, which describes itself as the world’s biggest independent credit card company. Ranked by employee donations, MBNA was the largest corporate contributor to President Bush’s 2000 campaign.

The company has also recently acknowledged that it gave a $447,000 debt-consolidation loan on what critics viewed as highly favorable terms to a crucial House supporter of the bill only four days before he signed on as a lead sponsor of the legislation in 1998. Both MBNA and the lawmaker, Representative James P. Moran Jr., Democrat of Virginia, have denied that there was anything improper about the loan.

I’m too disgusted to comment.

Posted by Armed Liberal at July 26, 2002 09:27 AM

I posted this four years ago, and it presents two problems that Democrats will have to deal with in this election cycle, as the culture of corruption in Washington begins to be an issue.

First, the moral issue, which is simply that we won’t solve the problem by solving only the Republican half of it.

Next the instrumental/political one which simply is that the Democrats can’t make a strong stand on the specifics of corruption – even though their proxies at TAP are hammering Rick Santorum right now – because they themselves are too vulnerable.

As I’ve said, I think there’s an opportunity for the Democrats to use this and make both moral and political progress – but it will require cleaning their own house first. I think that’s a smart political move, not a dumb one, because it iwll show the American people that they are serious about changing the culture in Washington.

Until then, it’s just chaff.

18 thoughts on “Reform And Chaff”

  1. It would be beautiful to see the Dems reinvent themselves as the party of limited, non-corrupt, anti-pork government. The benefits would be enourmess: it would exacerbate the tensions in the GOP between libertarians and paleos, perhaps to the point that the libertarians come over to the Dem side. If that happened, the Dems could stop pandering to the loony left, and become viable again at a national level.

    Besides all which, the irony would be just too delicious.

  2. “It would be beautiful to see the Dems reinvent themselves as the party of limited, non-corrupt, anti-pork government.”

    This sums up precisely why I’ve found myself voting for GWB in two elections even though I find him a subpar candidate. It’s not that I’m a Bush fan, its that on any issue I opposed Bush – the democrats managed to run to (for lack of a better term) ‘the left’. So, when Bush promised prolifigate Federal spending, the Democrats promised they’d spend even more. When Bush promised Government invasion of the private life, the Democrats promised even more.

    If the Democrats has correctly assessed GWB as a liberal leaning politician on virtually everything but social mores, and chosen to run to the right on those issues, they would have won either of the past two elections.

    The problem is that the Democratic party seems structurally incapable of running to the right of any Republican, no matter how far he swings to the left on any issue.

    As someone comfortable with other people characterizing me as a ‘conservative’, this scares the heck out of me. My brother – who was more staunchly GOP than I am, one of the real grassroots supporters – was driven from the party. As he put it, the Republicans have become the Democrats and the Democrats have become insane.

  3. It seems that MBNA/House (Moran) parallels MBNA/Senate (Biden). Biden had the additional argument that what was good for MBNA was good for Delaware, where it was headquartered, and acted as a good corporate citizen. Local advantage evaporated when Bank of America purchased MBNA. Maybe Biden (and Moran) still think the bankruptcy bill a good thing?

  4. “…MY *OSTENSIBLE* PARTY…”

    Ah. Glad to see we’re making some advances on the whole “truth in advertising” thing, AL.

    And an observation – while the Democrats certainly aren’t completely pure on corruption or handpuppets-for-big-business issues, you’d have a pretty hard time arguing they’re anywhere near _as bad_ as the Republicans. The idea that they’d have to do a major house-cleaning (which I’d support on purely moral grounds) to get some juice out of this issue seems… questionable.

  5. MBNA is getting ready to dump their US computer workers and outsource all computer and records functions to India.

    (This from a friend who is high up in MBNA and can not be named.)

  6. Chris, forgetting the moral dimension, you’re smart enough to imagine what a good political operative like – cough – Karl Rove – cough – will do with the soot on the Democrat’s shirts.

    There will be enough chaff on this issue, I’ll predict that it’ll be neutralized as a significant issue (except for the specifically indicted) in 06. It doesn’t have to be that way.

    A.L.

  7. AL-

    bq. There will be enough chaff on this issue, I’ll predict that it’ll be neutralized as a significant issue (except for the specifically indicted) in 06. It doesn’t have to be that way.

    I suspect it will be an issue, but it won’t particularly be a centerpiece issue of the campaign. I can live with that situation.

    On the other hand, I suspect the centerpiece issue will be our prosecution and continuance of the Iraq war… but we know what you think re: the wisdom of that strategy.

  8. I would like too, someday, at least momentarily, feel exalted by a politician. I would prefer a democrat, but hey: beggars can’t be choosers.

    I would love to be part of some movement to restore discipline to politics, but unfortunately I can’t write a check the size of the MBNA.

  9. I would like too, someday, at least momentarily, feel exalted by a politician.

    It happens to me all the time. And as an independant who now leans further left than in the past, it’s amazing the politicians that can make it happen.

    For instance, the last time it happened the politician was Ron Paul(R Tex) and the date was October 11, 2002.

    Politics really does make for strange bedfellows.

  10. If you’re looking to politicians for exaltation… might I suggest that this is the wrong place to look. Actually, it’s kind of a “Looking for Mr. Goodbar”:http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0076327/ exercise.

    I’m very impressed by the consistently principled prokbusting Senator Dr. Tom Coburn [R-OK, “Bridge to Nowhere” killer], who isn’t afraid to tread on his colleagues’ toes in the service of restoring discipline to politics.

    But exalted? I suspect Dr. Coburn would be as uncomfortable with that thought as I am.

  11. chris: “while the Democrats certainly aren’t completely pure on corruption or handpuppets-for-big-business issues, you’d have a pretty hard time arguing they’re anywhere near as bad as the Republicans.”

    `I like the Walrus best,’ said Alice: `because he was a little sorry for the poor oysters.’

    `He ate more than the Carpenter, though,’ said Tweedledee. `You see he held his handkerchief in front, so that the Carpenter couldn’t count how many he took: contrariwise.’

    `That was mean!’ Alice said indignantly. `Then I like the Carpenter best–if he didn’t eat so many as the Walrus.’

    `But he ate as many as he could get,’ said Tweedledum.

  12. bq. `But he ate as many as he could get,’ said Tweedledum.

    Right, Glen. Because most people _do_ judge sins on _how bad they might have been_, rather than _how bad they actually are_.

  13. I guess ‘exalt’ was too strong of a word. I guess I just want to hear someone who makes excited for the future, who makes me want to get involved in politics and saving the world. For the last 8 years or so I’ve mostly just felt annoyance, bewilderment, and total frustration.

  14. One of the major points of the Parable of the Talents is that proof of being able to manage small matters well is usually a prerequisite for managing larger matters. All tu quoques aside, if the Democrats can’t keep themselves clean even while the minority party, how can they go to voters claiming they’ll be better than the Repubs once in charge?

    As to Chris’ statement that “…it won’t particularly be a centerpiece issue of the campaign. I can live with that situation”, the Republican brain trust can only hope the strategists in the other party feel that way as well. Giving up what can be a lever issue isn’t a very smart way to go about winning elections, which is what I think was AL’s point.

  15. Chris –

    When you say “I suspect it will be an issue, but it won’t particularly be a centerpiece issue of the campaign. I can live with that situation.

    On the other hand, I suspect the centerpiece issue will be our prosecution and continuance of the Iraq war… but we know what you think re: the wisdom of that strategy.” I’ve gotta say that – just instrumentally, in terms of political tactics designed to actually win seats in Congress in 06 – you’re smoking crack.

    If the GOP can turn this election into a referendum on foreign policy, they will hold seats, not lose them (as they should in a midterm election, especially a second-term midterm election). Most Democratic professionals agree to this – I’m Olympicing and don’t have time to pull cites, but if you’re bold enough to disagree, I’ll spend some time on Google.

    A.L.

  16. bq. If the GOP can turn this election into a referendum on foreign policy, they will hold seats, not lose them (as they should in a midterm election, especially a second-term midterm election). Most Democratic professionals agree to this – I’m Olympicing and don’t have time to pull cites, but if you’re bold enough to disagree, I’ll spend some time on Google.

    Hey, knock yourself out – depending on the “Democratic professionals” in question, I doubt their opinion means all that much anyway. Whatever teflon Iraq gave GWB two years ago is long gone now, and the fact that you don’t realize this (even as you become more willing to critique the guy yourself) is one more reason to doubt your own judgement.

    The bottom line, AL, is that professionals can only steer the issues of a campaign when not much else is happening. As long as we’re in Iraq, the elections will be in large part about Iraq, and about the competence of the party that’s running the show, whether “Democratic professionals” want that to be the case or not. GWB got reelected in large part because many people decided the situation in Iraq wasn’t _quite_ bad enough to justify switching horses in midstream – but that’s not at all the case now.

    I’m still cynical enough to think that gerrymandering could stop any large changes in congress – I’m not willing to put any money on anything until we get to June or so – but the idea that the Republicans can win with their current foriegn policy is laughable. And the myriad domestic screw-ups of the party are just icing on the cake.

    And tagryn, implying that something’s a fallacy doesn’t make it so. Democrats have been far, far less corrupt than Republicans over the past 10 years… in fact, it’s arguable that the Republicans in Congress now are far worse than the Democrats ever were when they were in charge. The issue isn’t being given up, it’s just not gonna be what people are actually concerned about come November.

  17. Gotta agree with Chris here AL.

    Though not perfect, the only indicator we have are polls, and they certainly don’t suggest that GOP congressmen should run for re-election based on their support of the current foreign policy choices of their party.

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