I had the pleasure of interviewing Matt Margolis and Mark Noonan, the authors of Caucus of Corruption, a great book that levels the playing field by pointing out the corruption in the Democratic Party. I read and thoroughly enjoyed the book and reviewed it here.
BIG DOG: Your book, Caucus of Corruption: The Truth about the New Democratic Majority, focuses on corruption within the Democratic Party. What do you say to critics who might claim the book is partisan and ignores the corruption within the Republican Party?
MATT: First, I would tell them to read the book, because we do recognize that there is corruption in the Republican Party and we do say that corrupt Republicans should be removed from power and kicked out of the party. The problem with those critics is they don't want people to know about corruption in the Democratic Party. They'd sooner keep the corrupt Democrats in power than risk letting honest Republicans have any political advantage or control.
MARK: We can be sure that those who are accusing us of being unfairly partisan weren't at all upset as the way the MSM — and the Democratic leadership — ruthlessly ignored the facts of Democratic corruption. One longstanding Democratic tactic in these matters is misdirection – like when Clinton was wrapped up in his adultery scandals, Democrats were all about how this or that Republican did it, too. We're not doing that – what we're doing is acknowledging the totality of corruption in our politics by highlighting the long-ignored Democratic aspect of it.
BIG DOG: You point out the corruption involving William Jefferson of Louisiana, a case that has been building for nearly two years. In the book you discuss the fact that the Democrats failed to remove him from his committee seat until after it was reported by the AP that a video of criminal activity existed. How do you address critics who feel Jefferson is innocent until proven guilty and that if the people of Louisiana put him back in office despite the allegations, he should be left alone unless he is convicted?
MATT: It's amusing to see Democrats pull the "innocent until proven guilty" line now because any time a Republican is accused of wrongdoing, whether the charges are unfounded or not, they immediately label that Republican as guilty. Howard Dean was calling for Tom DeLay to go back to Houston and serve his jail sentence four months before DeLay was even indicted… and it was a bogus indictment no less.
MARK: There is also a matter of our good judgment; while Democrats were scattershot in their condemnations of any hint of GOP scandal, what people really need to do it take a look at the situation and see what sort of action is warranted. In DeLay's case, the specious nature of the accusations coupled with the clear partisan bias of the prosecutor should, in the minds of rational people, have resulted in everyone ignoring the charges or at least questioning their validity. In Jefferson's case, the fact that two people have already pled guilty to bribing him, plus the videotape evidence puts the accusations against him in a much stronger light, and bring with it the requirement for much sterner action to protect the people against corruption.
BIG DOG: So many supporters of the Democratic Party seem to buy into the idea that their elected leaders have done no wrong and that anyone who questions their acts is just launching a partisan attack. To what do you attribute this blind loyalty?
MARK: Obviously people want to believe their party holds the moral high ground, because they're the ones that best represent their beliefs in Congress. The problem is when party loyalty blinds you to the truth about those people who are supposed to be representing you. We would like to believe that Democrats will read our book with an open mind and then ask themselves if they really want these crooks representing them.
MATT: We know this is wishful thinking given the track record rank-and-file Democrats have in re-electing people who are demonstrably corrupt.
BIG DOG: As you point out in the book, generally, when elected Republicans are caught doing something wrong (or even accused as in the case of Tom Delay), Republicans across the country join Democrats in calling for them to be held accountable for their wrong doing. With the Democrats, we do not see this same call for justice with regard to elected Democrats who commit crimes. Do you think that the proliferation of social entitlements and the lax moral values (abortion, same sex marriage) espoused by the Democratic Party has numbed their constituency with regard to what is right and what is wrong or, in your mind, is there some other reason they ignore Democratic wrong-doing?
MARK: That pretty much explains their thought process; lay down with dogs, come up with fleas. If you are a person who not only commits adultery but thinks it not that big a deal, then you're probably going to excuse it in others. For Democrats, the worst sin is hypocrisy – and this comes out in a demand that those who have high standards rigidly adhere to them, while those with lax standards be allowed to get away with them.
BIG DOG: In Caucus of Corruption, you point out that corruption runs across party lines with each party having its share of corrupt politicians. I know that ideally you both would like to see more conservative Republicans in office but, if the next election guaranteed that everyone in Congress (who is up for reelection), corrupt or not would be replaced, would you be happy with that even if Democrats held a majority of the House and Senate?
MARK: I'd be happy to see the corrupt politicians go, regardless of which party ended up with majority status. Of course I'd prefer to see the Republicans in the majority – and in addition to getting rid of corrupt politicians, we must bear in mind that we must also get people who will fight against corruption tooth and nail; the Jefferson's of the world would not be as damaging as they are if everyone was on the lookout for them.
MATT: Based on our research, and from the examples we've seen of Republicans being accused of wrongdoing, I think if all corrupt politicians (Democrat or Republican) were magically booted out that Democrats would not end up with a majority.
BIG DOG: Your stated goal is to level the playing field and report the other half of the problem of corruption in Congress, the half largely ignored by the mainstream media. Why do you feel the media ignores the ethical problems of the Democrats while gleefully reporting any instance of Republican wrong doing?
MARK: Recent reports suggest that nine out of ten journalists donate to Democrats. That explains it pretty well. Additionally, reporters tend to be of a liberal social ideal, and thus they just don't get worked up over corruption they way you'd think. We're all deeply flawed, but most MSMers add to this the additional flaw of thinking that the concept of "flaw" is old fashioned.
BIG DOG: Lacking a platform, the Democrats ran the 2006 election based largely on the Republican "culture of corruption." Putting aside the corruption you exposed in your book, what is your assessment of the performance of the Democrats, after nearly six months in the majority, with regard to their pledge to run the "most honest, ethical, and open Congress in history?"
MATT: It seems clear to me that the Democrats were — and are — unready to govern. As we pointed out in Caucus of Corruption, back in 2005 Harry Reid was saying it would take a miracle for Democrats to win a majority in 2006. The so-called miracle happened but this didn't change the fact that even now they are back in power they have absolutely no leadership. Worse yet, Democrats spent no time in their years as the minority reassessing their views and adapting their liberal platform to modern reality.
MARK: If such a thing is possible – but, possible or not, it is dead certain that if corruption were off the table in 2006 and Democrats tried to run on, say, their 2004 party platform, they would have got creamed… not just failing to get a majority, but they would have lost seats. As a for-instance, the Democratic party is still committed, in their platform, to federally-funded abortion-on-demand. Whatever one might think of the merits of that position, the fact remains that it is supported only by a tiny minority – and that provision was first inserted into the platform a generation ago.
Democrats want power, but they don't even know anymore why they want it, other than it is "cool" to have the perks of power. In my view, after a quarter-century of observing politics, I've never seen a worse party leader than Nancy Pelosi; and I do believe she will be rated the very worst Speaker we've ever had. She couldn't even corral enough votes to raise the minimum wage without attaching it to a war-funding bill – and this in a time when in State after State in 2006 the American people voted to increase the minimum wage! Core party issue, popular with the people, hold a majority in Congress… still couldn't get it done.
BIG DOG: Matt, the Senators from your home state of Massachusetts [John Kerry and Ted Kennedy] are the standard bearers for the Democrats in the Senate and their combined service in the Senate is nearly 70 years. What, if any, ethical issues or acts of corruption did you discover involving either of them? Regardless of what you might or not have found, why do you think the people of your state keep putting them back in office?
MATT: Besides killing someone and accusing American soldiers of war crimes?
If there is an argument for term limits, then Senator Kennedy is it. If I could explain why he keeps getting reelected, I would. But it is beyond comprehension. Of course, recalling that Gerry Studds got reelected six times by the voters of his district makes me believe that the most simple explanation is that Democrats just don't care about having corrupt and immoral leaders in their party.
BIG DOG: Mark, Senator Harry Reid of your state has a whole chapter devoted to him in Caucus of Corruption. How do the people back home perceive him and why do they keep putting him in office, especially considering Nevada is a red state?
MARK: The usual way for a red State Democrat: don't tell anyone at home what you're doing in DC. Reid campaigned for reelection in 2004 as an "independent for Nevada"; nary a mention of his party affiliation and he wasn't exactly out there front and center helping other Nevada Democrats in their campaigns… and I don't recall much help to Kerry that year.
The perception of Reid is changing, however, and there is some speculation that he won't try for re-election in 2010. The stories of his crooked land deals as well as his advocacy of defeat in Iraq are souring the people of Nevada on him.
BIG DOG: You guys have worked together for several years on Blogs for Bush and now you have co-authored a book that should be quite successful. Do you have any plans for a future project and if so, what are they?
MATT: Trust me, we've only just gotten our feet wet with the first book!
MARK: We have a couple book ideas percolating in our heads right now, but we're really concentrating on Caucus of Corruption at the moment. The blogging will continue because we both enjoy that very much.
BIG DOG: OK guys, thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions. Good luck with the book and I look forward to reading your next one.
MATT: Thank you. Our pleasure!
I highly recommend Caucus of Corruption to members of either party. Mark and Matt are right, we need to get rid of the bad politicians regardless of their party affiliation. As they say to those with substance abuse problems, recognition of the problem is the first step to recovery. Caucus of Corruption provides the tools for the electorate to recognize the other half of the corruption problem. Once the problem is recognized we can put our country on the path to recovery.Powered by Sidelines