Has It Ever Been This Bad?

Another Obama nominee has tax problems. Instapundit asks,”Don’t any of these people pay their taxes?

Did we go through anything like this back when Bush first came into office. I don’t think that we did. What has changed?

I’m dubious that it’s a “Democrats corrupt”/”Republicans Angels” dynamic but could we be looking at the results of a media culture that does not scrutinize Democrats as closely as Republicans? Just about everyone in politics is an arrogant, egocentric, narcissist who believes on some level that the rules do not apply to him. Only the threat of exposure keeps them even moderately honest. Does knowing they face a hostile press make Republicans mind their Ps & Qs while knowing they face a sycophantic press make the Democrats arrogant and careless?  

If so, it is just another example of how the failure of the media as an institution hurts all of America in the long run. 

17 thoughts on “Has It Ever Been This Bad?”

  1. Good points, Shannon.

    I’m not sure I can explain this… I am also worried that these shenanigans will not require the Republican politicians to reset and re-affirm some principles and some backbone.

    All the arguing and fighting over the past few months was (is still!) necessary to figure out where the Republicans are to go in the future. If the Republicans do nothing, or worse, go along and the Democrats self-destruct, this is awful. No tough decisions will be made, no real cuts will occur, pork will still be rampant and Big (Corrupt) Government will continue unchecked…


  2. I liked the way Richard Fernandez put it:

    despite everything the world continues to turn in its old corrupt way. And the same idea may now be crossing the minds of those who believed that electing Democrats into power would mean cleaner government, world peace and a high moral tone only to realize that maybe Washington is like a softdrink machine which dispenses orange bug juice no matter what buttons you push.

  3. I do think the Democrats are more blind to the effect of this – at least to an average taxpaying citizen. (That may be because of the media – or just a complete lack of self-examination.)

    Geithner wouldn’t be nearly so infuriating if he weren’t standing beside Obama in shot after shot where they assert their need to spend immense (and unaccountable) sums of money. I’ve never thought the “everybody does it” was a good argument – as a child, by my children, etc. But when those who plan the tax schemes (abetted by those who imply we are greedy, unpatriotic, selfish, uncaring, etc. if we complain) are the ones not paying, this leaves the level of adolescent parent/child arguments and moves into Animal Farm territory (and we have a pretty good idea where that went). It’s become increasingly difficult not to throw things at the television. At least one of those guys is a crook – and what does that say about the other?

  4. Shannon,

    I vote for “lack of media scrutiny” aiding leftist politicians in the belief that they are above the law. It also seems that many on the left are infected with a disease that leads them to believe that the rich should pay and no matter how rich they are they are never the rich that should pay. It seems that another proponent of stealing from wealth creators is having grave problems with regard to the origins of his wealth and the taxes he “forgot” to pay on it – Charles Rangel.

  5. Everybody who wanted to get appointed by Obama had to fill out a 5000 page questionaire designed to find naughty boys and girls. People with reputations for honesty and integrity walked away, insulted. The crooks gamed the questionaire, treated it as a new challenge.

    Assuming integrity, sometimes extraordinary efforts bring extraordinary results. No amount of paperwork, no amount of regulation can replace informed, good judgement.

    More likely the questionaire was just theatre designed to hide the fact that birds of a feather flock together. This has the look and feel of the Chicago machine.

  6. The lack of media scrutiny of potential Obama picks for his administration is just more proof the media is nothing more than the propaganda wing of the Democratic party.

  7. You’re right, Shannon. Politicians of both parties are corrupt. However, the mainstream media gives more of a free pass to the democrats than the republicans.

  8. I don’t even really care about the fact that these guys have tax problems. As bad as that is, it is minor compared to the over-arching issue.

    That over-arching issue is that one of the most basic and most critically important executive functions for any business or organization, or new presidential administration, is finding, selecting, recruiting, hiring and retaining the best to run the operation.

    There has to be a process in place to do this. Part of that process is reasonably thorough background checks, questioning, identifying potential problems in advance so they can be dealt with or so the offer can be withdrawn or not made in the first place.

    This is not the hard stuff of management. It is the rock-bottom basics.

    Obama’s people are incompetent at the rock-bottom basics.

    This is very scary.

    Incompetence = weakness. Weakness invites attack.

    JFK came in and rejected Eisenhower’s advice on how to get the White House organized. This led to administrative chaos, and serious policy failures — Bay of Pigs, the Vienna meeting with Krushchev, others — leading our enemies to believe we were fackless, leading in turn to confrontations like the Berlin Wall and the Cuban Missile Crisis.

    I would say all of the foregoing even if the current president were a Republican.

    it is unacceptable performance, period.

    Obama had better, very soon, get some adult supervision into his operation.

    I don’t really care about him, or his policies, which I oppose.

    I care about the wellbeing of the country in a dangerous world.

  9. Lex,

    You make a very salient point. We could be in a form of trouble unrelated to ideology. Even if Obama recognizes the correct action to take he might be organizationally incapable of implementing it. Clinton had trouble making rapid decisions especially in foreign policy. The Rwanda tradegy being the most grievous example.

    It does make a rather stark contrast between the organizational skills of Obama the lawyer/activist and Bush the MBA/Businessman.

  10. Look, I started out on the left. Gradually, I realized that it wasn’t just the other side that was untrustworthy, but my own as well. That still holds. Those who haven’t figured this out yet are the ones still on the left, still holding a presumption of their own virtue.

    The only way to keep powerful people honest is to take away their power. They can only be trusted when they have nothing worth selling. Hell, I don’t even trust myself past a certain point!

  11. Mitch,

    The founders understood the primary political dynamic was never faction versus faction but rather the people versus the state. I think the left has completely lost that concept. They think that bad people in the police or military could hurt people but it never occurs to them that any other form of state power or the people who control it could be dangerous.

  12. I’m a day late here…

    I think there are two other factors in the tax cheat disparity:

    Democrats see taxes as doing two things — funding worthwhile programs, and punishing greedy people. They therefore have no problem shorting the government because:

    1) Their advocacy for good causes offsets part of their monetary obligation (I gave at the office syndrome).

    2) They are, in their own minds, incapable of being greedy people… their good thoughts immunize them from that possibility, so they don’t really owe as much as a greedy Republican would.

    I think a quick glance at the last few presidential elections would bear this out as well. The Republican candidates invariably paid a higher percentage of income as taxes… and gave more to charity to boot… yet the Democrat is seen as the friend of the poor and downtrodden.

  13. I do not think this is a particularly partisan issue.

    Rich people have the means to put up a fight when the IRS investigates them. The IRS is interested in maximizing revenue. As a result, the IRS directs its efforts against smaller players, basically middle class people, who have the means to pay but cannot wage a long legal struggle.

    As a result, in the USA rich people can run the risk of not paying taxes, and get away with it.

    Only when they are arrogant and foolish, like Daschle, and try to not pay but still come under public scrutiny, do they get caught.

    When Leona Helmsley said only poor people pay taxes, she was just jeering, she was describing something she knew to be true.

  14. Lexington Green,

    I do not think this is a particularly partisan issue.

    I agree. I think its just that Democrats and Republican receive different levels of scrutiny.

    Stevieray may also be on to something. I do sometimes get the vibe that leftist don’t see anything with people profiting from government or activist work. Leftist tend to define everything relative to the right, so if a leftist gets caught with his hand in the cookie jar well its nothing compared to what capitalist steal. They view it as a kind of karmic balancing.

  15. I have no suggestion on how to lustrate the media. Do you? Unfortunately, each generation must fill the positions if not the roles. The only solution, alas, is patience until they die. (And too bad if they’re younger than you.)

    The media isn’t the only institution suffering decline: the Catholic Church filled its priestly positions with men who didn’t believe in its doctrines; now see the results. The American colleges and universities filled their student, administrative, and academic positions with people who didn’t believe in America, democracy, freedom, capitalism; now see the results. Who else could have filled those positions than the generation that did?


  16. Re. this as sign of incompetence. Some see people who don’t pay as competent rather than dishonest. When that interpretation reigns we’ve lost. Its important our leaders (and we) obey because we believe in the rule of law, not because our peers might shame us or the government punish us. If we are dealing with people who only do what is right for these more external reasons, we are dealing with a more immature character in a more immature civilization – one in which we are less likely to trust one another. (A society that loses its ability to shame and a bureaucracy that punishes arbitrarily and infrequently tests – to the breaking point – that internalization.)

  17. I think that the Dem’s have been out of office a while and forgotten the media scrutiny that comes with high cabinet positions. Obama’s team did not do a good job of vetting these people.

    A long campaign gives you a chance to “spin” issues but a short confirmation process usually does not. The president eyeballs you quickly and decides how important you are and your position and then decides whether to fish or cut bait. He is a populist and these tax issues don’t reflect well on him so he generally will likely cut the rip cord on most of these people.

    It is different in the house or senate. Those guys are elected (the house from totally safe districts) and short of being impeached or challenged in the primary they are mostly immortal and can do what they please.

    In these cases I would say that the MSM is mostly doing their job, digging up the dirt as soon as these people are named and their private affairs become a valid topic of public discourse.

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