JOHN KRAHNERT III: America Deserves Better From Its Politicians
Can you believe the mess going on in Illinois right now?
I can. This week's bizarre situation surrounding the actions of Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich once again showcases the absolute worst of our political system.
Here we have a governor of one of the country's largest states attempting to pawn off a United States Senate seat like sports memorabilia on eBay.
In a dictatorlike power play, the governor has also tried to have his adversaries in the editorial department at the Chicago Tribune fired for writing unflattering things about him.
Blagojevich has been caught on tape swearing like a sailor about how he wants to make some [bleeping] money, not just get [bleeping] appreciation from the [bleeping] president-elect. Even his wife has gotten in on the act, suggesting in the background of one of those tapes that her husband withhold assistance for the Tribune Company's sale of Wrigley Field. "[Bleep] them," she says. Classy.
If that's not incredible enough, the man has the arrogance to show up for work the day after he was arrested on federal corruption charges. He is also flagrantly ignoring calls from the president-elect and U.S. Senate Democrats that he step down.
But in all honesty, what's the big surprise?
This week's developments got me thinking about some of the other winners that have held elected office in our country. We've had quite a few in the past 10 years or so. And -- what do you know? -- they come from both sides of the aisle.
Let's recap, shall we?
First, there's our good friend Sen. Larry Craig, the Idaho Republican who was arrested at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport for lewd conduct in a bathroom stall. He thought he could work his way out by giving the arresting officer his business card. Nice.
Then there's Democratic New York Congressman Charlie Rangel, who's being investigated for a litany of ethics accusations involving shady tax deals. He's only one of the highest-ranking members of Congress. No big deal.
His former Republican colleague, former Florida Congressman Mark Foley, was forced to resign his seat after being caught sending numerous perverted text messages and e-mails to his teenage congressional pages. Somehow he's avoided criminal charges.
Ah, and how could we forget the incomparable James Traficant, former Democratic congressmen from Ohio, who's finishing up an eight-year prison sentence for bribery, racketeering, and tax evasion? After being expelled from the House of Representatives and incarcerated in federal prison, he had the audacity to run for re-election while in jail. He should be indicted for that ridiculous toupee also.
Republican Sen. Ted Stevens looks like he's on the way to the slammer too, after being found guilty of seven counts of making false statements about gifts he received over the course of his Senate career. Despite the guilty verdict coming down before election day, he only narrowly lost his seat.
Just a few days ago, Democratic Congressman William Jefferson lost his re-election bid by just three percentage points. He was indicted on 16 counts of corruption in 2007 after an office raid revealed he had stashed $90,000 in the freezer. He claims his case was a part of some greater conspiracy by the FBI.
The whole point of representative democracy is to elect qualified people who fight for our best interests. Undoubtedly, there are plenty of admirable people in Congress who are perfectly clean and aren't on the take. But this list of politicians is pretty bothersome. Look at some of the stuff these guys have tried to pull. They could care less about you, me, or the greater good.
Most disturbing to me is that our fellow citizens continue to vote for them, even with allegations and convictions swirling around.
Traficant received 15 percent of the vote in his jailbird re-election campaign despite all of his convictions. Jefferson was re-elected in 2006 despite the freezer incident. Stevens was leading his race until the absentee ballots were counted. Craig and Blagojevich have both refused to resign.
Maybe I'm just being naive. But c'mon, America, don't you think we can do better?
Contact John Krahnert III at 693-2473 or by e-mail at email@example.com
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