September 18, 2006


Corruption That Shook Capitol Isn't Rattling Elections: Abramoff Case and Others Not Necessarily Key Issues (Blaine Harden, 9/18/06, Washington Post)

For all the influence-peddling that has been exposed in the run-up to the midterm election, corruption on Capitol Hill has not become a decisive issue -- here or in much of the country. The Abramoff scandal, having ended the careers of a few lawmakers and stained the reputations of several others, can certainly rile up ardent Democrats, as the debate here demonstrated. But it is not making fundamental changes in the nation's partisan landscape, especially in races, as with Burns in Montana, in which candidates are facing only unsavory stories rather than indictments or guilty pleas.

In an interview, the senator said his polling shows that most voters regard the "Abramoff deal" as merely a political liability and not a damning verdict on his character. Several pollsters and observers of politics in this state agreed with that assessment. The controversy is almost certainly the main reason [Conrad] Burns is in a competitive race this year, but by no means is it a guaranteed career-ender.

"The Democrats started way early with baseless allegations, and now a majority of people are saying, 'Oh, well,' " Burns said. "We are just moving on."

What, then, are the consequences of the oiliest congressional scandal in a generation as it percolates into races far from Washington?

Unless Mr. Abramoff has enough money to maintain oil futures at their current artificially high levels, he has no consequences.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 18, 2006 7:27 AM

When your only hope of winning elections is to pray that the other guy gets caught up in a broad scandal (as opposed to actually getting caught with his hand in the till, a la Cunningham in San Diego), your party deserves to lose. So what exactly is Conrad Burns' opponent going to do should he win, other than pass out goodies to a different set of buddies? There are only so many votes against "the War" to be cast, so what is such a Senator to do with the rest of his copious free time other than get into trouble? (Well, she could use the time to make a total fool of herself, which is the Patty Murray model.)

(And why do I have the feeling I made this same comment two years ago? Is deja vu simply another sign of the onset of senility? "Everything old is new again" when you can't remember yesterday.)

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at September 18, 2006 11:59 AM

At least Paul Krugman was smart enough to avoid the "bigger than 9/11" line this time around.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at September 18, 2006 7:42 PM