Matt Margolis & Mark Noonan
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Last week, Rahm Emanuel, the chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, spoke to the Brookings Institution about corruption in government, using most of his 3,600-plus-word speech to harp on the so-called Republican “culture of corruption,” while implying Democrats hold the moral high ground on ethics.

After the Democrats won the majority last November, they promised to usher in two things: 1) an ambitious reform agenda of their own and 2) a new era of bipartisanship. Emanuel’s speech signals his party’s abandonment of both promises.

In the 2006 elections, the Democrats won their majority largely due to their campaign against the so-called Republican “culture of corruption” in Washington, D.C. Despite a lot of rhetoric about a “New Direction For America,” over 100 days have passed since their return to the majority, and they have little to boast about.

In fact, there has been very little progress on any of the priorities Democrats laid out in their “New Direction For America.” Lower gas prices? Stem-cell research? Withdrawal from Iraq? Pension reform? The Democrats have failed to deliver on any of these alleged priorities.

With failure on the legislative front becoming ever more clear, it is no surprise that the Democrats’ “New Direction For America” has simply lead them right back to their 2006 campaign strategy of scandal-mongering.

Exit polls last November showed that anger over corruption was a strong motivator for many voters and the GOP bore the brunt of this voter anger. With 41% of voters saying that corruption was a “very important” issue to them and 59% of such people voting Democrat, the Republicans were crushed by a wave of voter anger about corruption in politics. This explains why Rahm Emanuel did not bother to offer any Democratic proposals to improve education, health care, and the economy or to reduce gas prices, promote stem-cell research, and protect our country from terrorist attacks.

In his speech, Emanuel said, “We should never allow the basic functions and solemn responsibilities of government to be subjugated to or take a backseat to politics or party interests.” But for Emanuel, the only thing that takes the backseat to politics or his own party’s interests is hypocrisy.

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Matt Margolis & Mark Noonan

Matt Margolis and Mark Noonan are authors of the new book, Caucus of Corruption

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