Wednesday, March 07, 2007

White House Crime and Republicans

The Libby conviction, with its implication of unlawful activity by the Vice-President and Bush’s left-hand man Karl Rove, raises a larger question:

In the past century, why have so many White House crimes been committed by members of the party of law and order?

From Teapot Dome to Watergate to Iran-Contra to the not-yet-named fiasco now, it is Republicans who have been convicted of felonies and sent to prison. Do politicians who want less government feel freer to break its laws than Democrats, who believe in government power to right social wrongs? Or are they just greedier, more arrogant and dumber?

In 1929, in the Teapot Dome scandal, Warren Harding’s Secretary of Interior became the first cabinet member ever sent to jail for his actions while in office.

After Watergate in the 1960s, three of the President’s White House aides went to prison after Nixon himself became the first President to resign as Congress was starting impeachment proceedings.

In the 1980s, members of the sainted Ronald Reagan’s Administration were found guilty of illegal activities in the Iran-Contra affair, but their convictions were overturned on technicalities. His Secretary of Defense resigned, was indicted for lying and later pardoned by President Bush I.

Ah, but did someone say Clinton and Whitewater? After years of investigating a 20-year-old land deal, the best that Newt Gingrich and his merry men could manage was an impeachment attempt for lying about oral sex in the Oval Office.

It will be years before the illegal activities of the current crew are sorted out, and that won’t start until a Democratic President takes office in 2009. But the question remains: Is there some kind of lawbreaking gene in Republican DNA?

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