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Dirty Gray

As Kim noted, yesterday Judicial Watch released its list of what it considers the 10 most corrupt political figures of 2007. It's a rather entertaining list, but I'm not quite certain I agree with their definition of "corrupt." It'd be a damned sight easier to say so if they actually gave a definition, but as I'm reading their list and its examples, I find myself disagreeing with them.

They make a point of listing the people alphabetically, to avoid saying that X is worse than Y, and it's as fair a system as any. Corruption is vile, and to weigh one form against another is dangerously close to excusing some of it.

Anyway, I figured it might be fun to take a look at their list, and see where I agree and disagree.

1. Hillary Clinton. No problem there whatsoever.

2. John Conyers. The allegations seem pretty petty -- misusing his staff for his personal benefit. Not even personal gain. The guy seems like a morally blind clod, all wrapped up with the same sort of "l'etat, c'est moi" mentality that cost quite a few monarchs their heads, but he should be taken down by his peers in Congress -- not worthy of the attention of the judiciary.

3. Larry Craig. The guy's a buffoon, a bozo, and a crass jerk. He got himself into a jam, dug himself in deeper and deeper, then tried to pull the "do you know who I am?" defense. Tragically, he's not a Kennedy, so that only sent him in deeper. But apart from that one pathetic attempt, there's no evidence he ever misused his position for personal gain. He's done a fantastic job of destroying himself, it seems wasteful to go after him any more. Napoleon once advised "never interrupt your enemy when he's making a mistake," and the theory is sound -- let him wreck himself, he needs no help.

4. Dianne Feinstein. Why the hell is she still in office? The Senate ought to toss her out on her arrogant, kleptocratic ass.

5. Rudy Giuliani: Apparently they wrote this piece before the "hiding expenses" story largely evaporated. And the Kerik thing is simply "guilt by association," and unlike Hillary Clinton and Norman Hsu, Kerik's legal and ethical troubles came to light AFTER he and Giuliani had parted company. I'm fairly certain that there has to be some good dirt on a guy who's been twice divorced AND twice elected mayor of New York City, but this is pretty small potatoes. I suspect Giuliani's ranking is based more on his own notoriety than that of his offenses.

6. Mike Huckabee: They overlooked his exceptionally generous pardoning policy, and didn't go into enough detail about his cheerful acceptance of "gifts" and "speaker's fees" while still governor of Arkansas. I'm starting to wonder if there's something about the water down in Hope...

7. "Scooter" Libby. Small potatoes. He was convicted of lying about telling the truth about a liar. It's now firmly established that he did NOT "out" Valerie Plame to Roberk Novak (Novak says it was Richard Armitage, and Armitage has confirmed that), and his "lying" consisted of saying he did not remember something that prosecutors said he did.

8. Barack Obama. Like Giuliani, the charges are relatively minor, and I suspect his inclusion is also based more on his personal prominence than the weight of the allegations. The alleged financial improprieties seem more along the lines of Hillary Clinton's cattle futures adventures than a sign of wholesale corruption.

9. Nancy Pelosi. Petty arrogance, with only one serious charge of seeking financial gain through her office. But it's a hefty one -- eight figures worth of bucks to end up in her husband's pockets. Unfortunately, cluelessness and sheer ineptitude don't qualify as "corruption," or she'd be one of the guiltiest on the list.

10. Harry Reid. It seems the guy is dirty as hell, but no one wants to call him on it. But there's one charge that is never laid against him, the one that ought to be the most damning these days -- that he is a Mormon. For all the furor over one candidate for president being a member of that faith, it seems that no one remembers that the Senate Majority Leader -- a man who wields far more actual power than Mitt Romney does now -- also belongs to the Church of Jesus Christ Of Latter-Day Saints.

While I'm looking at that list (four Republicans and six Democrats, if anyone's keeping count), I see one name glaringly absent from that list. And I know that Judicial Watch knows who William Jefferson is, because they listed him last year. Every single thing said about him then is still true, and the matter is still pending. He's been removed from several sensitive committees, but that's about it for a man whose corruption single-handedly triggered a Constitutional crisis.

I also find myself wondering if the list was prepared a while ago, before Al Sharpton became the subject of a federal investigation over his 2004 presidential campaign. Sharpton has a lengthy history of shall we say 'questionable" actions and statements and positions, and he certainly should qualify as a "political figure."

OK, I've tossed out five of Judicial Watch's Top Ten, abut only offered two names to replace them. That still leaves four spots open. Who do you, the readers, think ought to be on that list? Remember, simply disliking someone or THINKING they're vile isn't sufficient. The bar is pretty high for the Top Ten -- the standards set by Hillary Clinton, Dianne Feinstein, Mike Huckabee, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and William Jefferson.

And I'm also a smidgen disappointed that so few Republicans made the list. Four from the "culture of corruption," and three of them for questionable reasons. There HAVE to have been a few Republicans who earned their way on to the naughty list this last year.


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Comments (18)

Yep, Jefferson's omission m... (Below threshold)
Adrian Browne:

Yep, Jefferson's omission makes you wonder about the motivations behind this list.

Your removal of Craig while... (Below threshold)
Alan Orfi:

Your removal of Craig while leaving Huckabee on the list was absurd. The disgraceful and criminal acts he committed followed by the plea, retraction, resignation and attempted unresignation in the face of concrete evidence against him is the exegesis of corruption. Oh, but you'll go after the strong Christian because he accepted gifts... Do you think maybe your atheism has impacted your judgment here?

I'd add Al Gore. He has sh... (Below threshold)

I'd add Al Gore. He has shamelessly made millions of dollars by drumming up a false crisis, and raked in huge speaking fees in the process. He started a company (in the UK) that profits directly from buying indulgences to assuage guilt of contributing to that crisis (carbon offsets), and is in on the board of a venture capital company that brought him in specifically to push the "environmental" companies the VC outfit is underwriting (but so far have gone no where), and if successful, he will rake in many more milions of dollars. All while, as an individual, his "carbon footprint" is equivalent to several small towns. Probably nothing he could be convicted for in a court of law, but deeply corrupt nonetheless.

Alan:1) I'm an agn... (Below threshold)


1) I'm an agnostic, not an atheist. Don't push me into that corner, please -- I'm not overly fond of it.

2) Please don't use "impact" as a verb, unless you're talking dentistry. It grates on me.

3) In the end, Craig's offense was a petty one, and his actions more pathetic than anything else. He is hardly an exemplar of anything except what happens when weak men are caught indulging their weaknesses. He's a joke -- an even bigger joke than his inclusion on this list.

4) Huckabee took literally tens of thousands in in gifts and "fees" from people who had business before him, and issued pardons and other forms of clemency like a drunken Kennedy (but I repeat myself). All the while touting his degree in theology (whoops!) and wrapping himself in his faith, using it to justify his actions (especially the pardons, where "finding Jesus" got quite a few people out of prison). I wouldn't put him on the same level as Clinton or Jefferson (or, to cite last year's list, Cunningham), but his inclusion on this list is more readily justifiable than Craig or Obama or any of the others I bounced.


Not to completely Bogart th... (Below threshold)

Not to completely Bogart the discussion, there is a big difference between agnostics and atheists. Atheists are far too religious for my tastes, they make a positive statement on the reality of god. I cannot do that, and I suspect that JT cannot either. You might notice that JT has and admires religious friends. So do I. Every 3 months or so a Jehovah's Witness comes to my house to give me the newest "Watch Tower". I do not buy it, but I do like him and admire his faith. Frankly, we agnostics are unhappy to be tied to the ultra-religious atheists.

Larry Craig's actions were ... (Below threshold)
Dave W:

Larry Craig's actions were corrupt? They were more lame-brained than anything else. He wasn't exactly chilling out in a bathroom stall waiting for sex for personal/financial gain. It was dumb as hell but not corrupt.

Accepting gifts fits the definition of corrupt alot more than hanging around a bathroom for sex.

If they are going to use that as a definition then where is Cynthia McKinney on this list for throwing her cell phone? Thats about as corrupt as going into a mens room for sex.

Bill Clinton for his Librar... (Below threshold)

Bill Clinton for his Library funding. Let's see that list of donors.....You may say OLD NEWS.

But its still on going, in our face daily, and fixin to be back in the Whitehouse.

Also alot of money and probably the SLICKEST whitewash.

An interesting trend that I... (Below threshold)

An interesting trend that I noticed, on this year and last year's lists, is that any of the Republicans were held to account for their actions.

Libby, Craig, Abramoff, Cunningham, Ney, Hastert, DeLay, Foley ... all either indicted, investigated, retired and/or otherwise out of office.

The Dems on the list(s) are all in office, or campaigning for higher office.

JT:1) I'm sorry, ... (Below threshold)
Alan Orfi:


1) I'm sorry, but the cumulative body of your work defines you as atheistic more than agnostic despite your proclamations to the contrary. Jim Craig says he's not a homosexual, but the body of his work similarly establishes otherwise.

2) impact (v) - to have an impact or effect on; influence; alter. EX - "The writer's lack of spiritual guidance impacted his credibility on this subject."

3) Senator Craig's criminal act(s) rendered his entire position on faith, marriage and homosexuality a complete lie.

corrupt (adj) - "to lower morally, pervert; to mar, spoil, debase."

Regardless of his orientation, solitation of copulation in a men's room is tantamount to corruption. His subsequent coverup and unsubstantiated claims of dishonesty by the police were CORRUPT.

4) The acceptance of gifts or fees is simply not an act of corruption unless they were dihonest practices. There was no coverup here. If one could establish that political favors were extended for these gifts, that would be a different matter.

Most lightweight political writers do not understand the vast majoriy of clemencies and pardons issued by Mike Huckabee were granted after the convicts had served the entirety of their sentences, including parole. This cleaning of the slate did help many of these people reintegrate into society, particularly the job market. It should also be noted the rate of recidivism for those who received such mercies was zero. The Dumond case gained media attention, but again was misrepresented. The only commutation in the Dumond case was granted by the Clinton/Tucker regime. This allowed him to be reviewed by the parole board. They released him three years later.

You are also misinformed on the "touting theology degree". A quick review of the actual clip should help you out there as well.

Trent Lott and John Murtha<... (Below threshold)
Baron Von Ottomatic:

Trent Lott and John Murtha

I'm gonna have to disaggree... (Below threshold)

I'm gonna have to disaggree on Obama, simply because in Illinois politics, where there's smoke, there's a 4 alarm fire going on somewhere. Given the nature of the state, it's almost certain there's a hell of a lot more going on.

Al Gore and Koffi Anan. Eno... (Below threshold)

Al Gore and Koffi Anan. Enough said. ww

Any list of "most corrupt" ... (Below threshold)

Any list of "most corrupt" that doesn't include Murtha and Jefferson is lame. Personally, as I said on the first thread, I think this is more of a PR release for Judicial Watch than a serious attempt at "outing" corruption - most of the issues mentioned aren't new, some are many years old, none have resulted in charges.

ravenshrike ~ I don't doubt there is something there, but neither JW nor any other investigator has found it.

OK, I've tossed out five of Judicial Watch's Top Ten, abut only offered two names to replace them. That still leaves four spots open.

Jay, if you're going to try math, remember to take off your shoes! 10 - 5 + 2 = ??


A list of corrupt politicia... (Below threshold)

A list of corrupt politicians that leaves off John Murtha is no list at all.

Alan, I'll thank you to NOT... (Below threshold)

Alan, I'll thank you to NOT define my theological status. I do not grant you that authority.

An atheist insists there is no God. An agnostic (a-, meaning negative, + gnosis, meaning "to know") means that the person is not taking a definitive position one way or another. I do not acknowledge the existence of a Supreme Being, but nor do I deny the possibility.

I didn't say that "impacted" was incorrect, merely that it bugs me. It's become a buzzword, and it annoys me.

As far as the pardons and gifts go... it might have been legal, but it wouldn't have been in most other states and doesn't pass the "smell test."

We've already had more than enough of one governor from Hope, Arkansas whose ethics boiled down to "it's not technically illegal, if you look at it right." I'll pass on another.

And didn't Huckabee say during one of the debates that he was the only candidate on the stage with a degree in theology? I seem to recall almost those exact words...

Going after Reid for his mo... (Below threshold)

Going after Reid for his mormonism is like going after Pelosi or Guliani for their catholicism. They are lousy catholics like he's a lousy mormon. Seems to me, anyway. The religion of those three appears to impact their politics (or their personal lives for that matter) not one whit

JT:I understand th... (Below threshold)
Alan Orfi:


I understand the difference between "atheist" and "agnostic". My personal assessment of your cumulative body of work was actually a compliment. Of course, that would be lost on someone who is still wrestling with their Creator.

Sorry to "bug" you with my adjectives. It is so noted to upgrade from this point forward.

Now the gifts "smell bad"? I can't argue with that, but do you really think that would be an issue for Hillary in the general election? Let's stick with significant issues, please.

Sorry he's from Hope. I don't like the associations either, but he really should't be blamed for it, should he?

You're still reaching on the "theology" claim. That's not exactly something worth bragging about in the first place. I understand your trepidations about a God-fearing candidate given your present relationship with your Creator, but in all honesty, your arguments against Huckabee are quite weak. But that's my entire point... the toughest battle for Huckabee will be against Republicans. If, by some stretch of the imagination, he were to win the nomination, he will destroy the Democrat nominee because the middle-of-the-roaders such as yourself will be overwhelmed.

And didn't Huckabe... (Below threshold)
Anon Y. Mous:
And didn't Huckabee say during one of the debates that he was the only candidate on the stage with a degree in theology? I seem to recall almost those exact words...
You are correct, sir! He said it in his response to the bible question during the CNN/YouTube debate.

He had also said the same thing earlier during an interview with CBN.

As to corruption, I nominate CNN for the way they let that so many Democrat operatives plant questions in both the Democrat and Republican CNN/YouTube debates.






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