Mona Charen
Democratic Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey is having a bad month. He recently wrote a check to a large donor for nearly $60,000 reimbursing him for the generous gift of trips on a private jet. The paperwork had "fallen through the cracks," an aide explained. Under investigation by the FBI regarding allegations that he engaged underage prostitutes during visits to the Dominican Republic (the destination of those jet trips), the senator was also recently embarrassed when it emerged that an 18-year-old intern on his staff who was helping with immigration issues was 1) an illegal alien and 2) a registered sex offender. Two AP stories suggest that the young man's arrest was delayed by federal officials until after Nov. 6, when Menendez was safely reelected to a second 6-year term.

None of this came up when Menendez, the presumptive new chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was interviewed on ABC's "This Week." Martha Raddatz confined her questions to immigration and such. The press often claims that scandal stories are interesting chiefly if they involve "hypocrisy" -- as when a senator who voted for the Defense of Marriage Act was caught attempting something in an airport men's room.

The definition of hypocrisy is slippery. Though misbehavior in men's rooms is never a good thing, it is theoretically possible to be homosexual (closeted or otherwise) and genuinely support the Defense of Marriage Act.

Maybe the Craig story was too salacious for the press to resist -- Craig was a Republican after all. But here's the confusing part: Why is it not hypocrisy for a liberal Democrat to use underage prostitutes? Are Democrats in favor of this kind of exploitation of girls?

The non-lewd aspects of the Menendez unspooling scandal are actually more important because they illuminate the absolutely inescapable corruption that accompanies the expansion of government.

To its credit, The New York Times has reported that the New Jersey senator was the guest of Dr. Solomon Melgen on those visits to the Dominican Republic. Melgen, a generous donor to Menendez's campaigns and to the Democratic Party -- he contributed more than $700,000 to a PAC aimed at helping Democrats win the Senate -- recently purchased a company that provides port security. His company had apparently offered its services to a reluctant Dominican Republic. The Dominican customs inspector described the contract, estimated to be worth $500 million over 20 years, as "exorbitant." The American Chamber of Commerce on the island opposed the deal. Melgen, an ophthalmologist, is nobody's idea of a security specialist. The Chamber's executive vice president told the Times that Melgen "has, to my knowledge, no previous experience in port security."

Mona Charen

Mona Charen is a syndicated columnist, political analyst and author of Do-Gooders: How Liberals Hurt Those They Claim to Help .
TOWNHALL DAILY: Be the first to read Mona Charen's column. Sign up today and receive daily lineup delivered each morning to your inbox.
©Creators Syndicate