Commentary Magazine


Who Loses?

Aside from the criminal defendants and the Illinois Democratic Party, who are the big losers in Blago-gate? Really anyone who wants to get away with something or get something they don’t really deserve. I’d put in that category: Al Franken, Charlie Rangel, Caroline Kennedy and Eric Holder. No one now has the stomach for even a hint slick dealing or nefarious politics — at least for awhile. Those listed above, and others, may be handicapped in achieving their political aspirations.

Is Majority Leader Harry Reid going to hang up the Senate to overturn an election and seat Franken? Nope. Is Charlie Rangel going to be able to cling to the chairmanship of Ways and Means as the scandals dribble out, one by one? Not if Nancy Pelosi has her way. Unqualified Caroline Kennedy wants to use the Kennedy name to leapfrog over a dozen more qualified candidates? Not unless Gov. Paterson wants grief. And will Democrats boldly step forward to defend Holder’s behavior in the Marc Rich pardon as “business as usual”? Not so much.

This doesn’t mean that some or all of these people won’t ultimately get what they want. But it will be harder, as it should be. Blago-gate is a reminder of what egregious corruption looks like. So the media and public are now on alert for big and small acts of nepotism, law-breaking, and strong arming. It would be nice if they always had that level of concern. But for now we should enjoy a rare moment during which politicians will try to be on their best behavior.