Corrupt Politicians and Shrill Partisans

OK, I’m shocked and amazed. Well, not so much. This time it’s Democrats, as the FBI arrests officials in New Jersey. This story just reminded me that people who have power will be tempted, and some of them will turn out to be corrupt. The question is what we’ll do about it. In this case, the FBI seems to have answered that one.

But this reminded me of this post which tells us how awesomely horrible George W. Bush is, followed by comments in which various people repeatedly discuss how truly horrible the current president is.

It happens I’m not a George W. Bush fan. I think the war in Iraq was a strategic mistake. But get some perspective folks! You can oppose someone without regarding them as corrupt. You can disagree, even on major issues, without assuming they are stupid. People can disagree on intelligence assessments without being congenital liars. Do preconceptions impact intelligence reports? Sure they do. Is that right? No. The appropriate congressional oversight committees should do their jobs when it does. (They probably won’t. They usually have their own agendas!)

Some very smart people disagree with me on the war in Iraq. How do I know that? Well, first, I don’t make the assumption that disagreeing with me is the equivalent of being stupid. If I assume that, everyone who disagrees is stupid by definition. But supposing that I eliminate that one question from consideration. Is the person smart in other ways? If so, I should consider the possibility that an intelligent person can disagree. I know a fair number of them.

Is it hard? Sometimes it certainly is. The Iraq war seems wrong to me in so many different ways that I have a hard time understanding how someone can support it. But I’ve had intelligent conversations with people who do.

It’s interesting watching liberals get all frothy about W, because here in the Florida panhandle it was much like that during the Clinton administration, only it was the conservatives who were over the top. They would have a hard time telling me precisely what was so awful about what Clinton had done compared to Republican administrations. It sounded to me like they just disagreed with him on policy. But to many of them, Bill Clinton was a strong candidate for the antichrist.

They have similar feelings about Hillary Clinton. There’s a certain “anyone but Clinton” attitude down here in these parts, because while they hated Bill Clinton for reasons passing understanding they reserved greater vitriol for his wife.

And that’s where I come full circle to corruption. Partisans on both sides want to use the fact that some politicians are corrupt as leverage to get their own party into power. Thus they will try to spin corruption so that it falls largely on one party or the other. To hear the partisans, there’s always an excuse when “their” politician fails, but there’s never any excuse for the other politician. Republicans who were involved in impeaching Bill Clinton certainly don’t think it’s an appropriate remedy in the case of George W. Bush.

Unfortunately this tactic often works, because people don’t really study candidates and issues in any detail. Whoever can work the media just right to make the other guy look more corrupt without crossing an invisible line and losing support for being nasty and mean will become a winner. That’s what we need to avoid.

The discovery that a candidate who supports your views otherwise is corrupt should not cause you to vote for an opponent whose views you despise. It should make you look for a different candidate who supports your views. Corrupt people will get into office. Get over it. That’s why we have terms of office and elections. We can throw them all out.

The partisans who are pushing corruption as an issue that favors one party over the other are doing themselves and the nation a disservice. Unfortunately, the greatest–and final–disservice is done by voters who let themselves be influenced by a general smear without digging out the specifics.

If the voters were intelligent, 30 and 60 second ads would have no impact on a campaign. People would ignore them as the trash that they are.

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  1. I wish more people could see it that way. It sure would make the electoral process go down a little easier. As it is now, those of us who do pay attention to voting records and other issues have to wade through the rhetorical sewage before getting to the meat-and-potatos. Good post!

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