“It’s hard to see what the Ethics Committee would hang its hat on here to say that this conduct would violate the ethics rules. Others have said maybe it’s the lying. What! So no politician has ever lied to us before? That’s the kind of thing we see all the time. So he did behave discreditably (!!) but I don’t think it’s enough for a full-fledged ethics censure. David Vitter is still there.”
—-Melanie Sloan, Executive Director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, making excuses for Rep. Anthony Weiner on Lawrence O’Donnell’s MSNBC liberal love-in show.
As“Ethics Bob” writes, “If you’re a Democrat and you want an ethics pass, go see Melanie Sloan.” Bob muses on what kind of behavior Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington “would consider irresponsible or unethical.”
It sure wouldn’t be Sloan’s own conduct, though she infamously used CREW to promote the client of a lobbying firm that she later jumped CREW to join (also conduct that is seen in D.C. “all the time,’ though not usually by heads of so-called ethics watchdog groups).* The Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics does some good work, but it has always leaned heavily toward criticizing Republicans. Sloan’s statement to O’Donnell, however, is a new low, a disgrace for anyone who purports to take ethics seriously.
She begins with the “everybody does it” rationalization, which is odd; I thought the whole point of CREW was to stop “everyone” in Washington from being so corrupt. Now she apparently thinks that it’s an acceptable excuse. Yet she is also dead wrong: Congressmen lying to the face of media interviewers in response to direct questions about their conduct is not common or typical, despite Sloan’s acting as if it was the equivalent of belching in public—rude, but why get upset about it?
Nothing for the Ethics Committee to “hang its hat on,” Melanie? Really? How about the very first House ethics rule, which states:
“A Member, Delegate, Resident Commissioner, officer, or employee of the House shall conduct himself at all times in a manner that shall reflect creditably on the House.”
Unless, of course, you believe that a Congressman mailing pictures of his chest, his bulging underpants, his engorged penis, and God knows what other parts of his anatomy to an assortment of twenty-something strippers, porn stars and phone sex partners and then lying about it on every cable outlet he could find reflects creditably on the House. Is that CREW’s position? A poll of New Yorkers showed that about one in four think that all elected officials send photos of their wieners to women on the internet….gee, I wonder who gave them that impression?
Her mentioning David Vitter is the final straw, proof positive that she is just another political hack reciting talking point memos being sent out by Democratic Central:
1. Vitter is a Senator, not a House member, and the disposition of his ethics violations, if any, is irrelevant to Weiner.
2. His misconduct, apparently using the services of a prostitute at some point in the past, shows neither the pathology, the compulsive nature, or the reckless judgment of Weiner’s sexting.
3. Vitter did not lie about the matter when it came to light, and apologized immediately. This alone makes him a poor analogy to Weiner.
4. He was re-elected by his constituents after his scandal, meaning that if there was a time for the Republicans to remove him or for him to resign, that time is long past.
5. The fact that the Republicans didn’t force Vitter out of the Senate is not a precedent for the handling of Weiner in the House, whether his conduct was worthy of expulsion or not.
The Democrats, like the shameless Paul Begala, who have grasped at Vitter as some kind of justification for Weiner are both embarrassing and repeating themselves. It was Begala, among others, who argued that Warren G. Harding’s White House dalliances required that we excuse Bill Clinton’s misuse of his employees for sexual stimulation. Begala, however, isn’t the head of an organization that is supposedly trying to make Washington D.C a more ethical place. Sloan is, and I expected better.
Alas, disappointed again!
[Many thanks to Bob Stone for the pointer.]
* Sloan changed her mind and didn’t take the job after all.