Newcastle — Oh thank heavens! The White Knight of Sugarland, TX has been exonerated. Tom Delay, former Republican House Majority Leader known as the Hammer, who was unaccountably convicted in 2010 of money laundering is now cleared of that heinous attack on his integrity. It wasn’t easy for him to remove this smirch; he reports that he spent a personal $12 million on his legal challenge. (Now where does a good old boy lay his hands on that kind of pocket change?)
According to an article in the New York Times he was laughing it up in DC with some of his republican and lobbyist buddies when he received the joyous news. What? You ask, “Wasn’t he doing time?” Well, no; he was only sentenced to three years in prison and then quickly freed on a $10,000 bond. Yup, they really hammered on the Hammer.
So Tom joins the likes of Ted Stephens and John Edwards etc., etc. whom the courts once convicted or almost convicted but then recognized as innocent. He was also intimate with another soldier of virtue, Jack Abramoff. The Justice Department wasted a six year investigation on that link before deciding not to prosecute. What’s a few favors among friends?
To be fair I should point out that the scum which rises to the top is not always absolved. Witness Rob Blagojevich, one of the four (of seven) extant governors of Illinois currently incarcerated. Robbie got 14 years in the hoosegow and so far hasn’t beaten the charge despite the support of political cronies. Rob’s defense lawyer argued that “Blagojevich’s actions did not cause any public harm and that he did not profit from the crimes he was convicted of committing.” Following that proclamation the lawyer’s nose began to grow and now has to be supported by a boom crutch in order for him to hold his head up.
This is the way democracy works. I am ever surprised that we muddle along with a leadership of which only 15 percent of the population approves. (That’s on a good day. Only 7 percent of us rallied behind our President’s proposed military intervention in Syria.) Oh well, pretty soon the government will shut down and then unemployment will soar from the currently optimistic estimate of 7 percent to about 30 percent when all the civil servants and their more numerous contractors are laid off. Bernanke will have to shut down his printing press and inflation can take over. It’s a happy outlook we have.
But wait! Not to spread gloom and doom. It could be worse. A recent New Yorker piece featured Arvind Kejriwal, an Indian politician who is braving the impossible task of fighting government corruption. As democracies go, India’s is a pretty good one. There’s freedom of speech and press, they hold honest elections, and the judiciary is reasonably responsible. Corruption, however, is rampant and endemic. Kejriwal was initially incensed when he learned that the Commonwealth Games, a sort of Olympics for Britain’s old empire, held in India in 2010, exceeded the estimated $190 m budget by a factor of about twenty and ended up costing $2.9 billion. You know, toilet paper at eighty bucks a roll; that sort of thing. The Central Vigilance Commission (you have to love that name) estimated that between $1.1 and $1.8 billion had been misappropriated. This finally explains to me why countries are so anxious to host the Olympics, which always lose money. Aha! Not everyone loses.
Heads will fall. Correct? No, the Delay syndrome prevails. For that Indian shenanigan no one was ever convicted of any wrongdoing. Three officials of the organizing committee were briefly retained but released on bail. And in the final irony, one of them has now become the secretary-general of the Indian Olympic Association. Are these guys investment bankers? Are they too big to fail?
And that’s the way it is in a good democracy, like ours. One shudders to think what must be going on in all those bad democracies that we continuously and insanely attempt to establish around the world.