August 6, 2013 | by Peter Rosenstein
Political landscape tilts to absurdity

Historians talk about the wild politics of the past but politicians of today are making a name for themselves as some of the worst in years. Their actions and the coverage given to them make it hard to focus on real issues that actually impact people’s lives. We spend so much time on some politicians’ crazy actions and statements and debating giving people second — and in Anthony Weiner’s case — third chances that we are beyond being surprised by their shenanigans and only shocked when they actually accomplish anything good for the people.

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell is apologizing for taking and then refunding more than $120,000 in loans from a person who does business with his state, yet he hasn’t addressed the issue of the gifts he and his family have received from the same person. Elliott Spitzer, running for comptroller in New York, after resigning the governorship over a scandal involving hiring a prostitute and taking her across state lines, is getting compliments from some in the media because his scandal doesn’t look as bad as the one mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner is involved in.

Weiner resigned his congressional seat after getting caught texting pictures of his privates (or not so privates) to various women. Now we know after he resigned he continued these activities under the name “Carlos Danger.” One might even admire his chutzpah for getting his wife, an incredibly charming, smart and respected woman in her own right, to stand by him at a press conference saying she has moved on and loves him and asking the people of New York to prove they feel the same way by electing him.

Then there is Iowa Republican Steve King saying about dreamers (undocumented immigrants), “For everyone who’s a valedictorian, there’s another 100 out there that weigh 130 pounds and they’ve got calves the size of cantaloupes because they’re hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert.” Even House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has called that one over the top, yet King brazenly stands by his comments. Former Congressman Bob Filner, now mayor of San Diego is apologizing for his despicable treatment of women and refusing to resign.

With these daily revelations and headlines it shouldn’t surprise anyone that the general attitude of the electorate toward politicians is a “pox on all your houses.”

Though not even a state, politicians in the District of Columbia are doing their best to make sure they aren’t outdone in the bad behavior department. Two sitting Council members and one former Council member have been indicted and there is still a cloud hanging over the mayor because of his last election. After two years of investigation the U.S. Attorney still won’t bring the case to some form of conclusion.

Adding insult to injury and proving how arrogant they can be, the D.C. Council once again overturned the will of the people by postponing for four years the election of an independent attorney general. Many will remember they did the same thing a few years ago when they overturned the referendum that would have set in place term limits.  In addition they circled the wagons in the form of incumbent protection measures to avoid any real challenges to themselves. They did this by refusing to pass real campaign finance reform or serious far-reaching ethics legislation and are holding firm to next year’s April 1, 2014 primary date making it nearly impossible for a challenger to mount a serious campaign.

I suggest that all candidates wanting to seriously challenge an incumbent in D.C. band together and take the Council and the media to task for not focusing on these issues. That is the only way they will receive attention. It is unfortunate that all we hear from incumbents are pious statements about campaign finance and ethics reform, but we see no serious effort to do anything about them.

Unless voters across the country demand better, we will continue to see a nation with politicians whose ethics sink to the lowest common denominator and politics of the worst kind.

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