Sunday, March 16, 2008


The Schadenfratricide continues. My last post, titled "Fleas," referenced the meta-theft (thieves ripping off thieves) at the NRCC. I made light of it, but on further reflection, this is a big story, fat with implications.

In an article about the many woes afflicting the Republicans, the WaPo says this:

If Republicans needed any more evidence of how difficult this fall may be, the past week had it all, analysts said. The Illinois race demonstrated new levels of disaffection, the party's efforts to go on offense elsewhere were thwarted by recruiting failures, and the NRCC scandal will divert campaign resources and could frighten off badly needed contributors, they said.
Which reminds me of another, even more appropriate reference from the insect world, the fable of the scorpion and the frog.

The story is about a scorpion asking a frog to carry him across a river. The frog is afraid of being stung, but the scorpion reassures him that if it stung the frog, the frog would sink and the scorpion would drown as well. The frog then agrees; nevertheless, in mid-river, the scorpion stings him, dooming the two of them. When asked why, the scorpion explains, "I'm a scorpion; it's my nature."

As Wikipedia says, that story "illustrate(s) the purportedly insuppressible nature of one's self at its base level." Indeed. These guys steal and betray. It is their nature. They focus monomaniaically on short-term self-interest. While the pillaging was good, and the fat of the land could keep them all in the style to which they have become accustomed, a veneer of trust and cooperation appeared, and they focused on fleecing the rest of us. But it should be no surprise that eventually, now that the ship seems to be taking on water, they begin stealing from each other.

The potential impact of this story is significant, perhaps even tectonic. The symbiotic relationship between big business and the Republican Party depended in a sense on suspension of disbelief: it required multinationals to feel comfortable with the idea that, however rapacious the Repugs were when confronting the rest of us, these scorpions would never sting them. The DeLay/K Street game requires that businesses trust and give cash to lobbyists, who must in turn trust and give that cash to Republicans. If anyone in that chain of corruption loses the trust of the upstream or downstream players, the system breaks down. And once it starts breaking down, the individual actors quickly see their individual maximizing behavior is taking the money and running.

And that's why this story is so important. Whether or not the MSM publicizes this story, the money knows, and is busy canceling contracts, stopping checks, and pulling the plug on the whole enterprise. And it will be a classic feedback loop: the worse it gets, the worse the thievery, thereby speeding the financial exanguination.

It couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of frogs.


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7:38 PM  

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