WHY ARE ALL THESE SLEAZY LEGISLATORS FORCING US FAT CATS TO CORRUPT THEM WITH MONEY?
Look, I think it's swell that Sarah Palin's ghostwriter has written an anti-corruption op-ed, and that the Wall Street Journal editorial page has published it under Palin's byline. And I guess we shouldn't be surprised: being the feisty non-good-ol'-boy who hates corruption and fought it in Alaska is a tolerated aspect of Palin's brand, just the way being against torture is a tolerated aspect of John McCain's brand, just so long as he doesn't make a big crusade of it and actually threaten the GOP's ability to demagogue Democrats over it. As long as McCain is a lone Republican voice against torture, and not a particularly loud one, no problem. Same with Palin on corruption.
It also helps that her focus is almost exclusively on the corruptee side of the equation, not on the side of the corruptors:
Mark Twain famously wrote, "There is no distinctly native American criminal class except Congress." Peter Schweizer's new book, "Throw Them All Out," reveals this permanent political class in all its arrogant glory. (Full disclosure: Mr. Schweizer is employed by my political action committee as a foreign-policy adviser.)
Mr. Schweizer answers the questions so many of us have asked. I addressed this in a speech in Iowa last Labor Day weekend. How do politicians who arrive in Washington, D.C. as men and women of modest means leave as millionaires? How do they miraculously accumulate wealth at a rate faster than the rest of us? How do politicians' stock portfolios outperform even the best hedge-fund managers'? I answered the question in that speech: Politicians derive power from the authority of their office and their access to our tax dollars, and they use that power to enrich and shield themselves.
The money-making opportunities for politicians are myriad, and Mr. Schweizer details the most lucrative methods: accepting sweetheart gifts of IPO stock from companies seeking to influence legislation, practicing insider trading with nonpublic government information, earmarking projects that benefit personal real estate holdings, and even subtly extorting campaign donations through the threat of legislation unfavorable to an industry. The list goes on and on, and it's sickening.
Astonishingly, none of this is technically illegal, at least not for Congress....
The message sent to the reptile brain is not that this is a corrupt relationship, but that a corrupt Congress drives the process; the process isn't driven by zillion-dollar individuals and companies cutting the checks, it's driven by the recipients of those checks. (I love the image of thuggish members of Congress concocting bills hostile to industry just so they can strong-arm poor, suffering corporations into paying bribes. Yeah, that happens all the time!)
This, of course, dovetails perfectly with the Reagan mantra: government is the problem. Or, to quote a wingnut blogger who admiringly links the Palin op-ed:
Wall Street Might be a Symptom, but the Disease is Congress
I love this part of the Palin op-ed:
We need equality under the law. From now on, laws that apply to the private sector must apply to Congress, including whistleblower, conflict-of-interest and insider-trading laws.
Right -- because we've got all the anti-corruption legislation we need to rein in private interests -- it's just the government that's running wild! (Which is more or less what right-wingers believe; most, of course, think we have way too much regulation of business.)
And note the oh-so-clever conclusion of the op-ed:
The grass-roots movements of the right and the left should embrace this. The tea party's mission has always been opposition to waste and crony capitalism, and the Occupy protesters must realize that Washington politicians have been "Occupying Wall Street" long before anyone pitched a tent in Zuccotti Park.
Rational people would argue that Wall Street actually occupies Congress, not the other way around. But rational people aren't Republican.
Oh, and did I mention that members of Congress don't actually have "stock portfolios [that] outperform even the best hedge-fund managers'"?