Paul  Weyrich

If The Washington Times crack investigative reporter Jerry Seper is correct there may be five Members of Congress who seriously are under investigation by the Justice Department concerning their relationship with lobbyist and confessed felon Jack Abramoff. Two of the five, by the way, are Democrats and one of those is Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-NV). For all we know, there may be more. Some sources have told me that it surely is seven and other sources suggest the number may be as high as twenty.

Regardless of the number, the vast majority of Members of Congress, indeed the vast majority of Republicans, most likely are not involved in this scandal. Of course, Congress must tighten the lobbying rules. And surely no expense-paid trips not pre-approved by the House or Senate Ethics Committee should be taken. If such a rules change were to be adopted the private jets taking Members to a golf outing at some prestigious foreign location would be precluded. Fine and dandy. Tighten all you should. Just don’t try to make grassroots lobbying extremely difficult, as Senator John S. McCain, III (R-AZ) would do.

But if Congress preoccupies itself with nothing but lobbying reform for this shorter Second Session of the 109th Congress that which Members so fear - namely, that there would be an anti-incumbent revolt which would return Democrats to power - absolutely will come true.

On the other hand, if Congress would return to the people’s business and enact a conservative agenda there would be reason for voters to re-elect most Members of this Congress and to elect new Republican candidates to the open seats. On the other hand, if all the voters hear about is scandal, the image of scandal will dominate. Voters would have the impression that to restore honesty they had better dump their Congressman.

Consider what happened with the Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings of Judge Samuel J. Alito, Jr. for Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court. (If confirmed Judge Alito would become the 110th Justice since the founding of this nation.)

After the Harriet Miers debacle the President nominated the type of nominee we should have had in the first place. In the process, voters had the opportunity to observe a competent and conservative jurist and hear reasonable statements by Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Voters also saw a Republican Committee Chairman, Arlen Specter, of Pennsylvania, conduct the hearings with skill and objectivity.

Paul Weyrich

Paul M. Weyrich is the late Chairman and CEO of the Free Congress Research and Education Foundation.
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