These have not been good times for conservatives who are still licking their wounds from November. More than a few were convinced that a Muslim socialist born in Nigeria couldn't possibly beat a war hero who had the good sense to put an inarticulate, but patriotic hockey mom on the ticket with him. When Barack Obama emerged as the winner on Nov. 4, there was much gnashing of teeth in conservative circles, followed by a few weeks of what at first sounded like genuine introspection. The period of honest discussion and soul searching didn't last. Even before Obama took the oath of office, some Republicans were speculating that he would be a one-term president because the economy is such a mess. Because Obama is gambling his presidency on the effectiveness of his various stimulus packages, the Republicans believe they finally have an issue to run on in 2012 that works for them.
Lately, the conservatives who write to me on a regular basis are staking out another front they believe the Democrats are vulnerable. They've decided to make an issue of "the culture of corruption." Because it was used so effectively against Republicans in the mid-term and general elections, they're trying to return the favor. Sen. Roland Burris, D-Illinois has become their latest poster child. Conservatives are arguing that recently impeached Illinois Gov Rod Blagojevich was just the tip of a very corrupt iceberg. They point to Tom Daschle, Tim Geithner and Nancy Killefer's tax problems as "uniquely" Democratic. They point to the waiver former defense lobbyist William Lynn was given to serve in the Obama administration as an example of the party's attitude of "exceptionalism." Now that Rep. Charlie Rangel, Rep. John Murtha and former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson face lengthy investigations, they believe the memory of their own incompetence and corruption will fade and be replaced by populist anger at the Democrats. What a fantasy.
First of all, there is no acknowledgment in this scenario that Republican ideas as much as individual candidates were rejected by the voters during the last two election cycles. The brand took a tremendous beating during the Bush years and will take some time to recover (assuming that it ever can). The fact that some Democrats are as ethically challenged as the Republicans isn't a shock to anyone who has even an inkling of understanding about the human condition. The Washington political culture has enshrined corruption as a virtue. Both parties have been contaminated by it over the years. I expect the Obama Justice Department to indict criminals regardless of party affiliation. Having said that, I see no evidence of a surge of Democratic corruption. The president has been embarrassed by recent appointment troubles, but it is hardly a harbinger of an administration crippled by corruption. It shows the level of wishful thinking among Republican partisans. This is what happens when a party runs out of ideas.