Mary Katharine Ham

Leopold will undoubtedly use a version of the same argument, and he can hold out hope for success with his upcoming memoirs ala other should-be-ashamed notables as Jayson Blair and Jessica Cutler. Shamelessness can get you on the road to a very lucrative career these days.

Shame is almost always in short supply in the United States Congress, but that fact has become more obvious as bloggers and other citizens have begun paying closer attention to the way Congress spends money in the form of earmarks. These pesky citizens’ efforts have brought forth this jewel from Sen. Trent Lott:

“I’ll just say this about the so-called Porkbusters. I’m getting damn tired of hearing from them. They have been nothing but trouble ever since Katrina.”

Lousy constituents and their aversion to fraud and waste.

And, this from Rep. Jim Moran:

“When I become chairman [of a House appropriations subcommittee], I’m going to earmark the s—t out of it,” Moran buoyantly told a crowd of 450 attending the event.

Then there are Jesse Jackson and D.A. Mike Nifong, partners in shamelessness in the quickly unraveling Duke lacrosse rape case.

Jesse Jackson offered a full college scholarship to the alleged victim in the case, courtesy of his Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, even if her allegations prove false. In Jackson’s eyes, the victim should not only be unashamed of bringing false allegations on the Duke lacrosse team, but should be rewarded for it with college tuition. If the allegations are false, and the alleged victim gets her scholarship, I shudder to think what fraud that will encourage in the future.

And, Nifong, who so obligingly trumpeted his rock-solid case to the national press when the Duke story first broke—during the run-up to his primary election—has gone silent now that the case is beginning to look increasingly as if it were built on sand all along. He seems not to care that he may very well have tainted the presumption of innocence for the defendants and besmirched the reputations of all the lacrosse players who went uncharged.

Shame is not just an emotion. It has function. It can make us better and prevent future wrongdoing. In the future, all of these folks would be wise to remember that when someone asks, “Have you no shame?” the correct answer is not, “Why, no, I don’t. Thank you for noticing.”

Mary Katharine Ham

Mary Katharine Ham is editor-at-large of, a contributor to Townhall Magazine.

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