Thursday, December 20, 2007

Crazy Jay

I don't remember now where I read it, but someone once said that he wasn't surprised that it was possible to buy a member of Congress, but he was surprised at how inexpensive they were.

Ryan Singel @ Wired documents what a bargain Jay Rockefeller has been.

But he also quotes a simply stunning bit of sophistry.

Rockefeller is believed to have a personal fortune over $100 million. He spent $12 million of personal funds on his first Senate campaign. (

However "in recent campaigns, he has downplayed his personal wealth in one of the nation's poorest states. 'I will not spend one single dime of any money that I have,' he said in 2002. 'So that I if I don't raise money, I won't spend money. I am on exactly the same playing field, so to speak, with anybody else who runs for office.'" AP

The one reason that, in theory at least, we might actually want rich folks in elected office is that they might be less bribable. There is a pretty good argument to be made that this is the precise reason the founders established the anti-democratic and patrician Senate in the first place. Yet here is a staggeringly rich man bragging that he will be for sale just like any other poor schlub of a Senator -- and at guaranteed low, low prices. Not sheepishly admitting, not mumbling under Tim Russert's relentless hectoring, but volunteering. And, of course, not using his great-grandad's robber baron bucks for (what he sees as) the common good. The fact that his votes are negotiable instruments -- why, sir or madam, that isn't a bug; it's a feature. And it appears that his blighted constituents and the numskulls of the press simply smile and nod, uncomprehending.

As the FISA bill has proven, Crazy Jay will not be undersold.


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