How the mighty have fallen. The Hammer is throwing in the towel, and Top Gun and Dishonest Abe are both headed for the big house.
Since master lobbyist Jack Abramoff’s seemingly immeasurable tentacles were revealed to be wrapped firmly around Congress, lawmakers have been scrambling to revise their lobbyist rules, or at least to give the impression that they’re keen to do so.
“Reform” is a word much loved by politicians, who use it in an almost politically correct, euphemistic way. It implies the desire to make things right, even if their actions are very wrong. See “tax reform” (aka “giving to the rich”) and “tort reform” (same) for examples.
The Republicant-run House Ethics Committee, which undoubtedly saw some indictments for its representatives coming down the pike, tried to change its rules to accommodate its ethically challenged members, but when Democrats cried foul the committee was forced to relent.
That does not mean they felt compelled to do their jobs, though. Unable to give bigwigs like Tom DeLay a "Get Out Of Jail Free" pass, they simply chose to go missing.
Of late this has been the modus operandi for the Republicant party, who have stood with their hands in their pockets as leaders have repeatedly broken the law and/or ethics rules. See "George W. Bush" and "Bill Frist" for examples.
Congress is only taking a stand now that there has been a public outcry. Members should have been policing themselves all along; that is the meaning of integrity.
There are competing bills in the House and Senate designed to curtail the influence of lobbyists in the Legislative branch. But some are charging that Republicants keep trying to water down the rules; as the party in power, they have the most to lose from stricter regulations.
I expect these bills to be debated and rewritten until most real reform has been squeezed from them. When the story of the day changes to something else, lawmakers will feel the heat subside a bit, and will pass a token bill just so, come reelection time, they can say they "led the way" on reform on Capitol Hill.