Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Where's The Line?

The NYT explores whether or not the Blagojevich Senate seat scandal is really all that different from normal practices of political back-and-forth. It's perfectly legal, and common, for politicians to do things like "Well, I'll vote for your pet project, Bill A, if you vote for my pet project, Bill B. That way we both get one vote closer to passage." That kind of stuff happens all the time. The Blagojevich thing, however, seems to cut deeper. But where?
Ever since the country’s founding, prosecutors, defense lawyers and juries have been trying to define the difference between criminality and political deal-making. They have never established a clear-cut line between the offensive and the illegal, and the hours of wiretapped conversations involving Mr. Blagojevich, filled with crass, profane talk about benefiting from the Senate vacancy, may fall into a legal gray area.
Then there's this interesting quote:
“You have to wonder, How much of this guy’s problem was his language, rather than what he really did?”
Blago seemed so blatant, so open about it - while being wiretapped - that it seemed to cross the line into Unethical Land. Part of politics, though, is trading and favors. Coalitions would never be formed, and bills would never be signed into law, if there weren't some kind of deal-making taking place. So similar things to Blagogate happen pretty frequently.

I won't defend the insanely coiffed governor, but I do find it pretty disheartening that this incident appears to be not so much an isolated occurrence; it's just one of the few that gets caught. Just part of our politics, I guess.

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