Refresher: In January 2006, still basking in the glory of her ascension, Pelosi announced a "Clean House Team to Address (the) Republican Culture of Corruption." A press release trumpeted: "It is long past time for the Congress to address the systemic Republican culture of corruption that has undermined the American people's confidence in this institution," Pelosi said. "I am proud that some of the best minds in our Caucus will be leading the Democratic effort to clean up the corrupt Republican Congress. These great leaders will work to restore truth and trust to the People's House."
The Jefferson case has all the Beltway business-as-usual ingredients that Pelosi vowed to eliminate when she took power: nepotism, abuse of power, corporate cronyism and gross violations of the public trust. But Jefferson is a black Democrat who has been fiercely defended by both the Congressional Black Caucus and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Democrats are all too willing to lambaste corruption among their political foes, but fear the wrath of race-card players in their own party. It has muted criticism of tax-cheating, self-dealing New York Rep. Charlie Rangel, under investigation for numerous ethical improprieties in his personal finances and fundraising activities; congressional sisters Loretta and Linda Sanchez, under investigation by the House ethics committee for a payroll mess; and crony of color Rep. Maxine Waters, who had a personal and financial stake in Boston-based OneUnited, a minority bank that received $12 million in federal TARP bailout money.
Putting the Democratic culture of corruption front and center is not a headache Pelosi needs -- especially as a new Rasmussen poll shows her party now losing to Republicans on the core issue of governmental integrity. The Rasmussen Report reveals:
"Republicans also now hold a six-point lead on the issue of government ethics and corruption, the second most important issue to all voters and the top issue among unaffiliated voters. That shows a large shift from May, when Democrats held an 11-point lead on the issue."
It's a sharp and timely reminder that while death, taxes and "temporary" bailouts are forever, political fortunes in Washington are never immutable.