I'm going to keep it brief today – I like Wednesday's post enough to keep it going for another day rather than bury it.

I strongly recommend that you find 20 minutes to read Jason Zengerle's "The Idealist" from the February New Republic. It is impeccably written and unfolds across seven pages like a good movie. The story concerns Jeff Smith, a young Missouri politician brought to some degree of fame as the subject of the documentary film Can Mr. Smith Get to Washington Anymore?

Spoilers coming.

I absolutely love the Keystone Kops aspect of the relatively minor offense that led to the double indictment (although note that as is often the case, the attempt to cover up the crime was worse than the crime). Idealistic and book-smart people are just so bad at crime. Note the planning, which is reminiscent of the scene in Office Space in which the three nerds try to figure out how to launder money by looking it up in the dictionary. Later they base their efforts to avoid investigators on an episode of The Wire.

As Matt Taibbi's profile of John Boehner emphasizes, some people are cut out for Washington politics. Those people are almost universally scumbags. They lack any discernible positives as politicians or as human beings excepting the ability to raise money from lobbyists and get reelected. Idealistic people who enter this system – and I'm not attempting to portray Jeff Smith as an angel, but he is obviously a neophyte and somewhat naive – are skinned alive, picked over by the scavengers, and dumped on the trash heap.

Politics are much like any other form of crime. Poor people shoot each other and go to prison because they can't afford lawyers. The affluent, well connected elite hire a professional who is good enough to avoid detection to commit their crimes, and on the rare occasions that they are prosecuted their $100,000 retainer legal teams have them home by dinnertime.

12 thoughts on “INEPTITUDE”

  • But I'm constantly told that this is the greatest country and political system in the world! What you're describing doesn't sound good at all.

    The only conclusion a reasonable, patriotic American can draw is that you're a subversive intent on destroying this unique and wonderful system. You should be harried and destroyed for your treachery.

  • I know you're being sarcastic, Jude, but I don't see a contradiction. Exposing corruption in politics is just as all-American as patriotism. Even those who think that this is the greatest country on Earth would never claim that it is free of skulduggery among our public officials.

  • The Man, The Myth says:

    I read the piece of Boner (hehehe). Ed's characterization is spot on. He does appear to be a shithole. I'm wondering if anyone read the profile of Mitch McChonical in the Atlantic in January. He may be a bigger shithole.

  • "Loyalty to country ALWAYS. Loyalty to government, when it deserves it."
    — Mark Twain

    Too many politicians these days are only in it for what they can get for themselves and/or their cronies. I guess when you think the government is stealing from you (taxes), then you don't think it's wrong to steal from the government.

  • @vegymper:

    I love the last line:

    "A Fox News executive dismissed the letter, telling Reuters it was the work of a "George Soros-backed leftwing political organisation". "

    Apparently, Faux Nooz doesn't have to care what anybody thinks unless they're right-wing too…

  • With the truth of the Wednesday rant still ringing in my ears…What is interesting to me is how little of the criticism levied here notices that we can't compete with China because the poor serfs who are building iPhones 12 hours-a-day for pennies are actually close to slavery as a human being can be in this world. It certainly is indentured servitude, if not slavery. One might ask the question 'Should we compete against that system? ' And of course the American consumer conveniently overlooks their tacit support of this slavery by buying the products at Walmart, just as Ed posits.

    The only good thing I can see is that we have the freedom and means to criticize and fight back here while the Chinese do not, lest they face tanks and automatic weapons.

  • Paul W. Luscher says:

    The only problem I see here is that Jeff Smith was a John Boehner in the making–and would have become like him in time.

    The kind of rationalizing Jeff Smith used to justify his bad actions–"Clintonesque," the author called it, and boy, was he right–is the very same kind of reasoning ALL our politicians engage in: that somehow any act they do, however low, meretricious, and self-serving, is OK because they're doing it for a Noble Cause.

    That's how Boehner and his ilk are able to justify their sucking up to the corporate class: because they're doing it for The Good Of The Country…..

  • Thanks for pointing out that article, it was an awesome read. Zengerle definitely has a way with words. (I almost felt bad for a lying criminal.)

  • America's most ironic quote: "it's too bad that 90% of the politicians give the other 10% a bad name" – H. Kissinger

  • I know I'm going to be pilloried for this, but I like Littleton. Sounds like he knows his arse from his hand. He also knows who set up this bloat, and isn't going to let Uncle Rupe mislead him.

    @veg. A full page open letter? Seriously, if you want to kick Uncle Rupe in the balls you've got one of two choices:
    A) prevent him from acquiring anymore media outlets eg what's happening in the UK with BSkyB, or
    B) mass boycott of his advertisers so his advertising revenue takes a hit.
    Then and only then will he do something w the Beckerhead.

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