So I'm watching Jon Stewart the other night grilling House minority leader, Nancy Pelosi , about money in politics. Her responses were an extreme exercise in schizophrenia. In one breath she produced two diametrically opposite positions. By the time she finished the two statements self-canceled, producing nothing but talking-point smoke.
Well, no, that's not exactly true. It did produce something. It showed, once again, that neither of the two parties, that alternate ruling this country, are worthy of the job.
First, Nancy said, she agreed that money in politics has gotten out of hand, and needs to reined in. But, in the same breath, she denied that money in politics has corrupted the system - and in particular, not congress.
Instead, when referring to money in politics, Pelosi prefers terms like "distorting" to describe the role of big money in big politics. (Of course the $30 million reported to be in her own campaign coffers doesn't
"distort" her, just everyone else. She says she needs that money to fight for less money in the system and to un-elect those who are being "distorted" by it.)
But corrupt? Never, she says. Never.
Well yeah, it is corrupt, Nancy, and we all know it is. Stating the opposite reminds one of Big Tobacco's decades of denial that nicotine is addictive, and smoking causes cancer.
Money in politics IS corrupting. And Nancy, that includes you. Excluding yourself from those who are being "distorted" by big money, while building a pile of the stuff yourself is one spin too far. It makes one's head hurt just hearing you say it, much less trying to make sense of it.
It's time to start calling this what it is: political corruption ... rampant, open, widespread, growing, insidiously entrenched and self-staining political corruption.
The time has come... long, long overdue as it is... for Americans to accept that our electoral and legislative systems are corrupt. Americans like to click our jingoistic, judgmental little tongues at third world countries over their corrupt politics, but we are far less accustomed to applying those same standards to our own system of governance.
I crashed right into this wall of corruption when, way back in 1992, I was telling a group of Senate Banking Committee staffers that a pending piece of legislation that would repeal the Glass-Steagall Act was insane, and that if it passed, would result in a crisis far worse than the then still smoking S&L mess. A senior staffer cast a pitiful look at me and then proceeded to straighten me right out: "Y ou know, " she said, "Wall St and banks are contributing mightily to get Glass-Steagall repealed. Just who do you suggest who might contribute more to keep it?"
Translation: Money talks, good governance walks.
But there was once a glimmer of hope. I returned to DC a couple of years later to do a piece on Bill Clinton's pledge to reform campaign financing. He didn't. Here's why - a link to that tale.
Today both parties have their own Sugar Daddies: The Koch brothers for the rightwing of the GOP and George Soros for the Dems. But there's hundreds of wannabe sugar daddies out there vying for influence of both parties.
Which explains so many things that are otherwise inexplicable:
* Why Medicare is not allowed to negotiate drug prices when they purchase drugs from Big Pharma companies.
* Why, even after the water supply for half of an entire state was polluted by a chemical company, no genuinely strong regulatory changes will result for chemical production and storage industries.