All of this is beside the point. Ethics should not be a matter of how many indictments were handed down (or averted), or how close one can get to the edge of the law without violating it; neither should it be about score-carding the opposition and declaring one party more honest than the other because more of them have been forced to resign, or gone to prison than members of one's own party.
DeLay may well be innocent of all charges against him, as he says. But even if he is acquitted, the Washington political culture, which turns supposed public servants into career politicians, should be indicted. Too many people come to Washington with delusions they can "change the system." But many become like those ionic breeze devices. They begin to attract dirt from their surroundings. The seduction of power causes them to lose focus and begin to serve themselves first and the country second, if at all.
Voter disapproval of Congress remains high for this and other reasons. Republican voters are venting their anger on radio talk shows. They say Republicans are behaving like the Democrats they replaced. They are appalled at the record debt and refusal of President Bush to veto a single piece of spending legislation. They are even more outraged over the increased federal spending on education and a drug-entitlement measure.
Term limits for Congress is the answer, not phony changes in ethics rules that are easily ignored, or circumvented. The problem with term limits, though, is that members of Congress would have to approve them and too many seem too ethically challenged to do that.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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