Randy “Duke” Cunningham’s words of atonement sound sincere:
“The truth is, I broke the law, concealed my conduct and disgraced my office,” he said. “I know that I will forfeit my freedom, my reputation, my worldly possessions and, most importantly, the trust of my friends and family.”
“In my life, I have known great joy and great sorrow. And now I know great shame,” he said. “I cannot undo what I have done. But I can atone.”
Who am I to doubt him; after all, he at least owns up to it and will probably spend the better part of a decade in the Rebar Hotel and cough up a couple of million in restitution. Now he can write his book; that always has a cathartic effect.
In addition to Mr. Cunningham, several other lawmakers have had dealings with Mitchell Wade, the man who bribed Mr. Cunningham, including Virgil Goode of Virginia and Rep. Katherine Harris of Florida. Ms. Harris is best remembered for her work on the 2000 Florida recount and is now running for the Senate in Florida.
I noticed a strange sort of silence from the right wing on the Cunningham case. Perhaps that’s because any discussion that starts off with corruption in elected office will then lead to pointing out that there are a lot of other elected officials and their pals that are under investigation.
Senator Bill Frist, Senate majority leader, for possible stock manipulation. Rep. Tom DeLay, the former House majority leader, for money-laundering. Jack Abramoff, the high-powered lobbyist who is under investigation for swindling several Indian tribes and who worked closely with Rep. DeLay. Rep. Bob Ney of Ohio for taking bribes from Jack Abramoff. Michael Scanlon, former press secretary to the aforementioned Mr. DeLay, for dealings with the aforementioned Mr. Abramoff. David Savafian, former procurement officer at the White House, for obstructing justice. Practically the entire state government of Ohio, starting with Gov. Bob Taft and the rare-coins venture run by Tom Noe of Toledo. I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, former Chief of Staff to the vice president, for obstruction of justice and perjury. Karl Rove, Deputy Chief of Staff at the White House, for leaking the name of Valerie Plame to the press.
All of these people have two things in common: they are all prominent Republicans, which makes you wonder what they had in mind when they said they would get rid of the “arrogance and corruption” of the Democrats in 1994; and not one of these people have been accused of having sexual relations in the Oval Office. So I guess there’s no crime here after all.