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It Worked for Daschle

Now and then the New York Times editors try to save Democrats from themselves. They don’t, of course, urge the Democrats to pull back from their ideological precipice. But they do offer advice on scandals. They helped bump Tom Daschle out with a call to step down from consideration as HHS Secretary. Now they plead with House Democrats:

The House Democratic leadership should have the gumption to open its own ethics inquiry into members who awarded rich contracts to PMA’s clients and received handsome political donations from a grateful roster. Speaker Nancy Pelosi is reportedly at odds with her majority leader, Steny Hoyer, who wants to defuse Republican criticism with an ethics committee resolution. The speaker would be wise to get ahead of the scandal.

The list of PMA’s pals is topped by Mr. Visclosky, Representative John Murtha, the powerful defense appropriations subcommittee chairman, and Representative James Moran. But it doesn’t stop there. Since 1998, PMA doled out more than $40 million in donations to members of Congress. Last year, more than 100 lawmakers earmarked $300 million in contracts for PMA’s clients.

It remains unclear why Pelosi stubbornly refuses to act. But if the scandal continues to spread and, as happened to the Republicans in 2006, they pay a price at the polls for their ethical sloth, Democrats will no doubt recall that it was Pelosi, who like so many Speakers before her, protected her cronies rather than the long-term interests of her party.