Jonah Goldberg

The year was 2007. Hope, incandescent in its infancy, shared its warming glow. Britney Spears was heading for rehab, tainted pet food was killing cats, but in Washington the songbirds of spring sang their sweet, sweet songs of rebirth, even in the dead cold of January, to herald the return of truth and justice to our nation's capital.

The Democrats, always the better angels of American politics, had returned to the halls of power in Congress from their cruel banishment. Huzzah and hooray, cheered all right-thinking people, for corruption is on the run and decency has the whip hand in the peoples' house. Atop the throne sat Nancy Pelosi, the first woman speaker of the House. Grandmother of all that is good, leader of the forces of light - a light that when shone upon the Capitol caused the likes of Tom DeLay to scramble under the proverbial refrigerator, seeking shelter from the searing rays of the reforming spirit that warms the decent and scorches the wicked.

"It burns! It burns!" shrieked the architect of the K-Street Project at the glare of Pelosi's righteousness. Not literally, perhaps, but editors of the New York Times and the lefty hosts of the blogosphere liked to think he did.

Remove the paving stones of good intentions and the road to hell becomes a superhighway called “K Street,” where lobbyists rule like marauders in a Mad Max movie. Or so we were told for more than a decade.

The K Street Project symbolized all that was tawdry and repugnant about Washington, according to the Democrats. New York Times columnist Paul Krugman assured readers that the K Street Project lay at the heart of the "largest corruption scandal since Warren Harding."

What was this perfidious project? DeLay and his corrupt collaborators cajoled industries seeking help from Republicans to hire Republicans. Moreover, it was alleged, lobbyists supportive of Republican efforts would get better "access" to Republican lawmakers.

I know what you're thinking: Why weren't these scoundrels hung?

Alas, because of the limitations of our laws, the Democrats had to settle for driving a stake through the heart of the K Street Project. In 2006, Pelosi vowed to do exactly that: "If we're ever going to have real change here, we must kill the K Street Project."

Nevada Sen. Harry Reid insisted that the KSP was "a shakedown machine that would make the mafia blush." Expecting Republicans to reform the system, he explained, would be "like asking John Gotti to ... clean up organized crime."


Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the forthcoming book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
 
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