Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity

Dem strategy on ethics: Make lemons into lemonade

On MSNBC just now, DCCC chair Chris Van Hollen made it explicit:

Dems will argue that the ethical travails of Charlie Rangel and Maxine Waters prove that Dems are making good on their promise to "drain the swamp" of corruption in Congress. Even if it's their own who are swirling around that drain.

Also: Van Hollen rolled out another line of attack: He contrasted the Dem leadership's response to the Rangel mess favorably with the GOP leadership's proposal in 2004 to change the rules to allow Tom DeLay to remain in a leadership post if he were charged by a grand jury.

Republicans have signaled that they will pound away relentlessly at the Rangel and Waters affairs as proof that Dems failed to clean house. Asked if this is a liability, Van Hollen answered:

"We've actually strengthened the ethics process. The reason people are hearing about the cases of Charlie Rangel and Maxine Waters is because we put in place accountability measures to make sure that we have high standards and that people are held accountable to those standards.

"If you recall back when the Republicans are in charge, and Tom DeLay was about to be indicted, the Republicans actually weakened their rules. They changed their rules to say, even after he's indicted, he can still be the Republican leader.

"We were very clear. Charlie Rangel is not the chair of the Ways and Means Committee. He stepped down as a result of allegations. And now we're going through what is a very much strengthened process, with more outside oversight."

In other words, Dems are hoping to make lemons into lemonade.

Dems are in a very tough spot, with high profile trials looming this fall, and they would certainly prefer it if Rangel went quietly. Barring that, however, they're signaling that they will punch back hard by comparing themselves favorably to the GOP's woeful ethics record in the majority.

This is another sign of how badly Dems need the public to associate today's GOP with the one that ran Washington only several years ago. As I noted here yesterday, Republicans have been working very hard to rebrand themselves and to achieve separation from the GOP of Bush and DeLay. Dems, of course, are insisting that today's GOP is indistinguishable from the old one. This particular argument could go a long way towards deciding the outcome of the midterms.

By Greg Sargent  |  August 5, 2010; 2:23 PM ET
Categories:  2010 elections , House Dems , House GOPers  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Is Obama's position on gay marriage sustainable?
Next: A question for David Broder: Who's to blame?

Comments

Not even the slightest peep about both Vitter and Ensign.

They must be their trump cards waiting to be played.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | August 5, 2010 2:31 PM | Report abuse

For this to work the Dems will have to do something they are not good at: boil it down to a bumper sticker length talking point.

This won't work, "Rangel requested he be investigated; Delay changed the rules to allow him to maintain power."

It'll have to be shorter and clearer.

I think the Dems have a point on this, but I doubt they'll be able to push that point. Their messaging skills stink.

Posted by: nisleib | August 5, 2010 2:32 PM | Report abuse

"Dems will argue that [they]... are making good on their promise to "drain the swamp" of corruption in Congress. Even if it's their own who are swirling around that drain."

If this works for the Dems then the Republicans have got it made!

Posted by: sbj3 | August 5, 2010 2:33 PM | Report abuse

OT

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on Thursday that he hopes that President Obama becomes a born-again moderate after the midterm elections and that a new, more balanced Congress brings with it some bipartisan comity.

But the Kentucky Republican made it very clear that any future bipartisanship needs to be defined by his ideological terms.

"What I hope we are going to have after November is more balance, more balance, which would give us the opportunity to do things together that simply were missing when you have this kind of disparity," McConnell said. "But, I'm not going to be very interested in doing things left of center. It is going to have to be center right. I think the president is a flexible man. I'm hoping he will become a born-again moderate."

h/t Benen

Posted by: nisleib | August 5, 2010 2:46 PM | Report abuse

Why aren't we seeing the 'trials' over Vitter and Ensign?

I'm not snarking...is there a reason that we aren't seeing the much larger issues in their cases also getting the same sort of attention?

Posted by: TheBBQChickenMadness | August 5, 2010 2:46 PM | Report abuse

Just curios....How did Porter Goss get named co-chair of the Office of Congressional Ethics?

(This is the same Porter Goss who authorized the destruction of the CIA detainee interrogation tapes....)

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/16/us/16tapes.html?_r=1

Posted by: suekzoo1 | August 5, 2010 2:52 PM | Report abuse

bbq, because they're in the Senate?

House rules are different. In the Senate, you have to commit the crime on film in front of a live studio audience.

Posted by: BGinCHI | August 5, 2010 2:53 PM | Report abuse

BBQ - Why? Because sex scandals are only important when Democrats are involved. Duh. Where have you been?

It is not like they like to have s-e-x with hookers while wearing diapers or anything. Oh, wait...

At least they aren't "Family Values" Republicans, 'cause that would be just TOO hypocritical. Oh, wait...

Well at least neither of them got busted, and are being investigated by the FBI for, bribing the mistresses husband. Oh, wait...

Golly BBQ, I have no idea why the "liberal" media isn't covering this. But if I had to make a guess it would be that the media is so terrified of being labeled "liberal" that they'll give a pass to ethically challenged Republicans.

Look at the bright side, it isn't like the GOP spent over 80 million investigating the Clenis. Oh, wait...

Posted by: nisleib | August 5, 2010 2:54 PM | Report abuse

Mrs. Greenspan did her part to push the Beltway wisdom by telling Van Hollen that he was seeing the glass as full which only shows that she is seeing it as half empty since it's the Dems. I was also very annoyed that Van Hollen didn't once mention that JOHN ENSIGN IS BEING INVESTIGATED BY THE FBI! Sorry for the unhinged caps but, I'm really sick of this double standard. Why is the media ignoring that story? Why aren't they camped out in frot of Ensign's house and his parents house? Even if Rangel and Watters are found guilty of ethics violations, they will NOT go to jail since this isn't a criminal probe. While Ensign's prob is criminal and he could face JAIL TIME!

Posted by: roxsteady | August 5, 2010 3:46 PM | Report abuse

At least we can all rest assured that when Vitter croaks the obit will start off with:

David "Diapers" Vitter, a disgraced conservative...

Posted by: koolkat_1960 | August 5, 2010 4:04 PM | Report abuse

@Greg

I hope we'll see a dedicated post to Kagen's confirmation to the SC. It's definately worthy of it, rather than being tucked in the round-up...

Posted by: TheBBQChickenMadness | August 5, 2010 4:05 PM | Report abuse

Agree with bbq on a Kagan post.

Only 5 GOP Sens vote for her, after hearings that produced NO reason to do otherwise.

Please highlight the No Agreement on Anything GOP strategy.

Posted by: BGinCHI | August 5, 2010 4:10 PM | Report abuse

@BG: I am one of those who say confirm Kagan.

But I don't agree that there aren't "any" reasons to vote against confirmation. If a Senator honestly felt that a supreme court justice should have judicial experience then why isn't that a legitimate reason to vote No?

Posted by: sbj3 | August 5, 2010 4:14 PM | Report abuse

"If a Senator honestly felt that a supreme court justice should have judicial experience then why isn't that a legitimate reason to vote No?"

Then said senator should not simply rely on his fee-fees, and should look at the record of many SC justices who had less experience than Kagan, and yet were successful on the Court. One has to take into account all of a nominee's experience.

Posted by: suekzoo1 | August 5, 2010 4:21 PM | Report abuse

"One has to take into account all of a nominee's experience."

And where exactly does it say that in the Constitution?

Posted by: sbj3 | August 5, 2010 4:23 PM | Report abuse

All, my response to David Broder's column on the broken Senate, fwiw:

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/plum-line/2010/08/a_question_for_david_broder.html

Posted by: Greg Sargent | August 5, 2010 4:25 PM | Report abuse

sbj, I swear, you just do this to provoke us.

You are smarter than that.

Posted by: BGinCHI | August 5, 2010 4:29 PM | Report abuse

"sbj, I swear, you just do this to provoke us."

I sincerely believe that it is possible to vote against the Kagan confirmation for legitimate reasons. You flatly stated that it was not. You are wrong. It hurts your overall argument against GOP rule if you just start making shiite up.

Posted by: sbj3 | August 5, 2010 4:37 PM | Report abuse

" "Dems will argue that [they]... are making good on their promise to "drain the swamp" of corruption in Congress. Even if it's their own who are swirling around that drain." If this works for the Dems then the Republicans have got it made! Posted by: sbj3"

And just what mechanism do you propose will make Republican hide, lie, change the subject, and stall treatment of republican crooks like Gingritch, Delay, Cunningham, Vitter, Ensign, and unindicted co conspirators look good compared to democrats being ready, willing and able to discipline their own when (or, as when is yet to be proved) they break Congressional rules. Waters case is pretty slim, as at the time hearings began she openly disclosed her husbands affiliations.

If they do get Charlie, I hope he takes a couple month vacation to Bimini and plays dominoes just for the effect.

Posted by: ceflynline | August 5, 2010 8:15 PM | Report abuse

Post a Comment

We encourage users to analyze, comment on and even challenge washingtonpost.com's articles, blogs, reviews and multimedia features.

User reviews and comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions.




characters remaining

 
 
RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company