Bargain bribes

Posted: May 25, 2006 12:05 PM

As Shakespeare once observed, more or less, who steals my purse steals trash, blah blah blah, but he that filches from me my good name, yada yada yada, makes me poor indeed.

Well, the Bard of Avon and the Burt of North Hills are in total agreement regarding the importance of one’s reputation, although I do think he went slightly overboard with that trash line.  I can only assume the Bard never had his wallet lifted, and then had to go about replacing his driver’s license, and all those Visa, MasterCharge, Social Security, Medicare, and Auto Club, cards.

I have no reason to think that Bill and I are the only people who, like Cyrano de Bergerac, regard our reputations as white plumes well worth defending, even at the point of a sword.  So, tell me, how is it that so many politicians, no matter their party, place so little value on their own?

I was just a kid when one of Eisenhower’s closest associates, Sherman Adams, saw his own career scuttled when it came out that he’d accepted a vicuna coat from someone who wanted access to the White House.

It wasn’t too many years later that Lyndon Johnson’s protégé, Bobby Baker, saw his future turn to ashes when he accepted a stereo set from somebody whose name wasn’t Santa Claus.

These days, we see the folks up on Capitol Hill running around in a panic, trying to pass measures to deal with ethics violations.  And just what are we talking about? What is it that has these Congressmen and Senators in such a tizzy?  What is it they have to vow never to do again?  Hold on to your hats, boys and girls.  These assorted millionaires have to make the ultimate sacrifice.  They have to promise to pay for their own vacations, their own rounds of golf, and even--dare I say it?–-their own lunches!

Now, please understand, I am not claiming to be a saint.  Heck, if I were in Congress on Pork Barrel Day and a lobbyist offered me $10 million to vote for some unnecessary bridge being built in Alaska or for a highway leading from no place to nowhere in West Virginia, I just might take it.

But, for crying out loud, how proud can I be when people boast about America’s having the best politicians money can buy when I know the bozos can be had for the price of a coat, a stereo, or even a ham sandwich?!