"I can resist anything except temptation."
-Oscar Wilde, "Lady Windermere's Fan"
Of the myriad things wrong with politics in America today, perhaps the most insidious is that too many of our representatives view elected office as a career path rather than a public service. Our Founders never intended for political careerists to run the country. They knew the corrupting influence of political power, and luckily for the rest of us, they possessed the strength of character to resist it.
If only we had more men like Washington and Jefferson in office today. Instead, we have a veritable pantheon of self-seeking, self-interested egotists unable to resist the siren song of corruption. A glaring example of this pervasive problem may be found in the Old Dominion. Virginia governor Bob McDonnell is under fire for playing the oldest game in the book: accepting gifts in exchange for political access and favors. Slate's Dahlia Lithwick profiled the scandal in her recent article, "Virginia is Corrupt."
"Embattled Gov. Bob McDonnell has probably just cratered a once-promising political career over $145,000 in undisclosed gifts – each worthy of its own episode of Real Housewives of Richmond – including a $6,500 Rolex, a New York shopping spree for his wife, limo rides, catering for his daughter's wedding, and a ride in a Ferrari. Is it shocking that McDonnell and his wife twisted themselves into pretzels to shill for the donor company's weird tobacco-based nutritional supplements?"
Undoubtedly these revelations come as a great disappointment to many McDonnell supporters in Virginia and around the country. Not long ago, McDonnell was a “Golden Boy” of the GOP. So much about him bespoke integrity and earnestness, principle and trustworthiness. Talk of presidential potential circulated widely. Now, he and his family's shameless abuse of the Governor's position have made him radioactive and his poll numbers have plummeted.