The House of Representatives has long been a place where the perks of a little bit of power seem to play to the worst impulses of greed people. The players change, even the parties involved change, but the story never does.
The overall cleanup of the House promised by Newt Gingrich never happened. The scandals that brought down Dan Rostenkowski and the House Democrats in the early 1990's are now the scandals that are playing havoc with the Republicans who stayed hanging around long after their idealist slogans were tarnished, turned green with money.
No where has that been more the case more than with the California House Republicans. For every person of principle there have been two made in the image of Duke Cunningham. For some reason, Southern California seems to be the spawning ground for this sort of graft and corruption. The first to fall was "Duke" Cunningham. Then, up in No Cal, the supposedly powerful Richard Pombo lost the CA 11 seat to a guy whom even the Bay Area House Democrats said "can't win."
The Republican Party needs to start asking itself just how far they will let the likes of Cunningham pull them down, as the winds of shame are swirling around Jerry Lewis, Gary Miller and Dana Rohrabacher, the self-styled Libertarian Troubadour and (later) Reagan speech-writer.
I ran across the following description of Rohrabacher's early career, laid out in a discussion of Totaliarianism Today.
The final step was provided by an anti-communist free-market anarchist named Dana Rohrabacher at the St. Louis YAF Convention. He was a charismatic campus activist, radicalized by Robert LeFevre who provided him with small funding to travel the country with his instrument and folk songs from campus to campus, converting YAF chapters into Libertarian Alliances and SIL chapters. Alas, later he fell into politics, but not the LP. The Libertarian billionaire Charles Koch supported him in two failed Republicans primary campaigns, and after Rohrabacher put in time as Ronald Reagan's speechwriter, he got his reward of a safe seat in the U.S. House of Representatives from Orange County. He is still in office today, with growing seniority. There are few issues on which he is still Libertarian, certainly fewer than, say, Ron Paul holds.It looks more like the attraction of money eventually ate away at those Libertarian Values that he once held dear.
I wonder how many more reference to the old Rohrabacher, the one who lived his value (on other people's money) I can find and whether they will prove embarrassing to the new Rohrabacher. Or maybe the one we see is the one that was there all along and all that Libertarian stuff was just an act, a young man, a guitar and an act to take on the road. He surely seems to have come a long ways from the ideas of Robert LeFevre or the late Samuel Edward Konkin III.
I would guess that we should give Rohrabacher the benefit of the doubt. That at one time he really believe in what he was doing. But then, we have a good measure of just how long it take the power and money flowing through Washington to reach someone, to change the way that they look at the morality of the things they do. Only the very strong seem immune and I don't see that Rohrabacher is all that strong. Those two failed races for office as Libertarian spouting Republican must have taught him that to gain and keep, that power, you have to go along. So he went along to the Marianas Islands with Tom Delay.
Where else did he go along? We will keep the travelogue running.