Wednesday, March 08, 2006

One Collossal Fraud

(the following has been cross-posted at New England Republican, where I'll be posting most material henceforth))

In one of the Big Screen's finest works, Captain Renault (Claude Raines) bursts into
Casablanca with the purpose of shutting down Rick's (Humphrey Bogart) operation. The following exchange occurs between Rick and the Captain:

Rick: How can you close me up? On what grounds?
Captain Renault: I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here! [a croupier hands Renault a pile of money]
Croupier: Your winnings, sir.
Captain Renault: [sotto voce] Oh, thank you very much.

In the finest spirit of such hypocrisy, here is a bit of local
news that comes as absolutely no surprise to me or any number of those in the political trenches here in Massachusetts:

Representative Martin T. Meehan has gained national exposure in recent years as a champion of efforts to reduce the influence of money in politics. Now, the
Lowell Democrat is poised to achieve a new distinction: He is days away from
becoming the only House member in the nation with a campaign war chest that tops
$5 million, with an eye on a possible run for the Senate.... ...that a
representative who has been at the vanguard of campaign finance reform has the
largest campaign bank account in the House speaks to the huge advantages of
incumbency, said Celia Wexler, vice president for advocacy at Common Cause, a
government watchdog group.

I have never been one to agree much with anything Common Cause has to say (I think my legislative rating with them was around 15%), but ol' Celia speaks da troot.

For his part, the Meely-mouthed Meehan comes glibly to his own defense:

Meehan, 49, said he agrees that elections have become too expensive, but notes
that his colleagues on Capitol Hill have shown no appetite to embrace a system
that would replace big-money politics with publicly financed campaigns. Until
the system changes, he said, there's no choice but to aggressively raise money
to stay in Washington. He would almost certainly have to raise millions more to
run for the Senate. ''Passing landmark campaign-finance legislation does not
mean you raise the white flag and give up seeking higher office," Meehan said.
''The intent was never to reduce the overall amount of money being spent, but to
get people to run for office with smaller contributions."

Interesting explanation. See, less than a month ago, Meehan joined his colleagues McCain, Feingold and Shays in submitting a brief to the United States Supreme Court in defense of the State of Vermont's legislative proposal to do just that. Their principal argument was thus


Of course, this isn't the first, or most egregious, example of political fraud to be perpetrated by the smarmy Meehan. That would be his well publicized about-face on his pledged to serve no more than four terms in the House, made when he was first running for Congress in 1992 against incumbent Chester Atkins. At that time, he
avidly embraced self-imposed term limits, "railing against career politicians in Washington." In 1995, he went so far as to write a "letter of resignation" instructing the House clerk to remove his name from the congressional record if he won a fifth term. As he rode this reform horse into his second term, he bravely held forth on the reasons for his support of this essential reform:

Furthermore, I do not believe that term limits alone will suffice to make every election cycle more competitive. For the ten years during which they would be
eligible to run for reelection under H.J. Res. 2, incumbents would still be
magnets for lobbyist dollars, because only they could cast meaningful votes on
the future of programs dear to organized constituencies. Incumbents would also
continue to dominate media coverage, not only because they are usually able to
raise more money than challengers to pay for campaign commercials, but also
because their actions as legislators will inevitably be the subject of nightly
news programs and daily newspaper stories throughout their tenures
. And term
limits would do nothing to eliminate the franking privilege available to members
of Congress, which enables them to communicate their opinions to constituents in
an unchallenged format. Only comprehensive campaign reform can address the
problem of incumbent advantage, the phenomenon which is most responsible for the
public's poor opinion of our current political system.

Unconcerned that his prescience would hold to be true even in his own case, in 2000 Meehan changed his mind, and when faced by the press, had this to

"I made an announcement over a year ago that I would be running," said
Congressman Meehan, 43. "Look, I can't respond to every ridiculous assessment
made. I changed my mind. I made a mistake. I've decided to let the people
decide. If the people don't like what I am doing, they'll throw me out."
That was quite a bit different than what he had to
say in 1995 after the Republican controlled House defeated a term-limit amendment:

When term limits were defeated in 1995, Meehan was livid. "The whole exercise
was nothing more than a big political show designed to confuse people into
thinking that House Republicans really support term limits ... I have always
been skeptical of the legislators who claim they are for term limits but have
been in office for 15 or 20 years. The best test of any politician's credibility
on term limits is whether they are willing to put their careers where their
mouths are and limit their own service."

Apparently that test does not apply to him, but that is the best test of any politician -- whether he believes that the rules only apply to others.

Here it is clear that Marty fails.

This eyebrow-raising news also comes after the embarrassing news that (so soon before the news of his fundraising prowess should come to light) his own Chief of Staff admitted that he had deleted "unflattering references" to Meehan's broken pledge from his Wikipedia profile.

What I find interesting about this is that there has been ZERO follow-up with the Congressman, as in, for instance, this question:

"Congressman, your Chief of Staff, Matt Vogel, has admitting to overseeing the deletion of truthful but unflattering facts about your public record from the Wikipedia website. Did you have any knowledge in advance that he intended to do this?"

I'd like an answer to that question -- not because I think I'd get the truth, but because it's always fun to watch a weasel squirm.

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