Power corrupts, and in the case of House Republicans, it corrupted immediately. Their scam to rig the congressional ethics system couldn’t survive the light of a single day, but the smoldering debris offers a reminder that “me, me, me” remains the top priority of the political class.
Give Donald Trump credit for tweeting his disapproval of the late-night changes and setting the reversal in motion. It was an example of how the president-elect’s pledge to “drain the swamp” has raised expectations for more honest government, and his quick response showed he’s not exempting the leaders of his own party. Bravo.
Although Speaker Paul Ryan opposed the changes, he defended them after Republican members voted to gut the role of an independent watchdog by a vote of 119 to 74, behind closed doors and with no public debate. Ryan thus handed the Democrats and their leader Nancy Pelosi a New Year’s gift, and she wasted no time in charging that “ethics are the first casualty of the new Republican Congress.”
Talk about your miracles — Ryan managed to unite the oddest of political bedfellows, Trump and Pelosi. For his next trick, maybe the Boy Wonder will get the House to do the people’s business.
In the grand scheme of things to come in these tumultuous times, the sorry episode will not be long remembered. But what it says about the self-serving arrogance of Washington and of politics in general should not be forgotten.