Ethics Rules and the Missing Factoid
Glen Peck of Barrington thinks that:
House Republicans have done something truly appalling. They’ve knocked down a Republican House ethics rule that banned House members from holding leadership positions if they’ve been indicted on felony charges. They did it on behalf of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R.-Texas). …
This is no mere act of hypocrisy, though. Nor is it just a Beltway issue, relevant only in Washington. This is a national moral lapse that cuts to the heart of our government.
Curiously, Mr. Peck doesn’t seem interested in the question of whether the other major party at “the heart of our government” has a similar rule. (Of course, in Rhode Island, the Democrats are the head, hands, and pockets of government, too.) In trying to answer that question for myself, I didn’t come across any “appalled” liberals demanding that the Democrats institute one. The closest was a parenthetical note from the apparently liberal Bert Caradine at WatchBlog — offered without evidence or opinion — that “House Democrats are now considering one.”
News readers might suppose that Washington Post writer Charles Babington would think it a relevant factoid for his piece on the matter. But the information remains absent, even as he quotes House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi as saying that the rule change would “confirm yet again that [Republicans] simply do not care if their leaders are ethical.” (Pelosi, herself, didn’t seem to notice that her standard for the Republicans implies a lack of ethics as the norm.)
Bill Bowman, writing from Bruce Springsteen’s old stomping grounds in New Jersey in the Asbury Park Press, outdoes the WaPo coverage in this respect, if only because a New Jersey Republican spokesman thought to say the unspeakable:
The Republicans’ new rule is “considered tougher than the Democrats’, who have no rules whatsoever. A Democrat leader could be indicted and found guilty and still hold their post,” Sagnip said.
And the folks at Power Line join me (or at least their emailers do) in finding it curious that Democrats would fling the word “hypocrisy” on this count.
I’m not interested enough in this matter to engage in adequate research to form a definitive opinion. Still, indictment seems a rather strict measure in an innocent-’til-proven-guilty society. A rule such as the following, described in the WaPo article, seems most reasonable to me, given political circumstances:
Republicans last night were tweaking the language of several proposals for changing the rule. The one drawing the most comment, by Rep. Henry Bonilla (Tex.), would allow leaders indicted by a state grand jury to stay on. However, a leader indicted by a federal court would have to step down at least temporarily.