November 19, 2006

Planning their own funeral?

Barack ObamaHaving picked up both houses of Congress, the Democrats are pondering how far they should go in creating a new law against corruption. On the one hand it’s a clever idea – a piece of legislation that Bush won’t be able to veto. But they’re also starting to appreciate that if they screw things up, they’ll get beaten over the head with the very legislation they called for.

Initial proposals, which included a ban on politicians accepting gifts from lobbyists – you mean that’s alright at the moment?! – are being debated vociferously by Democrats after their victory in the Midterms. Barack Obama, the Illinois senator who is tipped for great things, believes the strong mandate from the public means they should go even further in making U.S. politics less corrupt. But others have rejected the idea of an independent watchdog, arguing politicians – and especially nice, clean Democrat ones – can regulate themselves.

It’s a touching proposal, but ultimately nonsense. Those who oppose such measures may as well be holding up their hands and saying “Don’t do this or my hands will get burnt!” For those whose hands are a little close to the fire, there must be plenty of nervousness that in creating tough legislation to stop sleaze, they’ll end up building their own highway between Capitol Hill and a jail cell.

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