The Swamp is Clogged

Has Jack been taken to Nancy's woodshed yet? Have they had the talk about how many more times she can stand to see images from that ABSCAM video the National Republican Congressional Committee is now so fond of?

The new majority, the one that promised to "drain the swamp" and be the most ethical in history, voted yesterday to protect both one of its own and the earmark system politicians depend on but have to pretend to hate. Democrats voted en masse (although ethics committee members voted present) to stop the GOP from censuring Rep. Jack Murtha (D-Pa.) for his threat to block the appropriations of a member who had tried to eliminate one of his earmarks, a violation of ethics rules.

There is, of course, a long tradition of lawmakers yelling at and threatening each other on the House floor. But two things are notable here: 1) Murtha is a very close friend of Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), the one she unsuccessfully stuck her neck out for in an attempt to topple the majority leader last November and 2) Democrats are trying to become the party of ethics reform, something easier promised than delivered, as Pelosi is quickly learning.

It was bad enough when Murtha told the Blue Dogs the week after the election — while he was running for majority leader, no less — that the ethics bill Pelosi and others were proposing was total "crap." But during the flap over Pelosi's choice of airplane several months ago, Murtha said the Pentagon would pay a political price for the leaking of the information to the media. "They make a mistake when they leak it because she decides on allocations for them," he said.
By the time the Republicans get through with them, rightfully so, it will be hard for numerous freshmen who won GOP districts and delivered a Democratic majority to explain a vote to protect earmarks and the potential flouting of ethics rules. Democrats were privately fuming yesterday that Murtha had not done enough to apologize and prevent the Republicans from taking action against him on the floor. They should ask Speaker Pelosi to make sure she and Murtha don't corner them again.