Join the GOP -- ethics not required
It may be more than a little showboating, but let it not be said that Democrats are unwilling to police their own. The Democratic caucus voted to oust Rep. William J. Jefferson (La.) from the Ways and Means committee in response to charges of corruption against him.
Innocent till proven guilty and all that, but the evidence made public so far has already indicted him in the eyes of the people and it would be difficult for the Democratic Party to make an issue of Congressional ethics if he is allowed to carry on as if nothing has happened. By rights, Jefferson should have stepped down voluntarily for the good of the party. His continued resistance to doing so does nothing for his court case or his public image.
Meanwhile, the caucus vote stands in sharp contrast to the GOP's typical response to corruption in their own ranks, which is to circle the wagons and protect their criminals. A strategy made clear beginning with the enormous efforts made to keep Tom DeLay in power to their nonchalance about the ethics of the dozen or so other Republicans currently implicated in the various lobbyist corruption cases. For instance, Josh Marshall runs down Chair of the House Appropriations Committee Jerry Lewis' various connections to the Cunningham case. Not only have his ethics remained unquestioned, our president praises his fine work in advancing the White House agenda.
But why should that be a surprise? Heck, in this White House, any display of ethics is a firing offense. Just ask John Riggs.