Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Your Hit Parade

Salon.com has compiled a list of all of the scandals and shenanigans that have cropped up in the first four years of the Bush administration. There are, by their count, 34 of them. Any one of these would make Whitewater look like a Quaker potluck dinner. But what will come of them?

If the next four years of Bush and the GOP running the federal government are anything like the previous four, however, potential scandals will lead to few political consequences for the Republicans. Bush opponents will likely be disappointed if they are waiting for a renewal of the supposed “second-term scandal jinx” dogging Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and Clinton.

After all, Washington Republicans are insulated by a rabidly partisan Congress with no interest in investigating the executive branch (and little taste for disciplining itself). By contrast, presidents Nixon, Reagan and Clinton each faced an adversarial Congress. As the late Senate Watergate Committee counsel Sam Dash noted in 2003 about congressional oversight: “Although it worked then, it doesn’t mean it would work now.”

Moreover, Congress allowed the independent-counsel statute, the law that brought us Ken Starr, to expire as Bush assumed office. And the right-wing media — cable news, talk radio, several newspapers — are not about to replicate the drumbeat of scandal they pounded out while Clinton held office. Thus scandals are not a defining part of the GOP’s current identity.

In other words, when you have the cops on the take and in on the crimes, you’re not going to get busted.