Let me finish tonight with this matter of corruption. “Power tends to corrupt,” Lord Acton wrote. “Absolute power corrupts absolutely.” It’s my experience that anyone who comes to Washington, this capitol city, better come with a strong moral code. There are other things you “can” pick up here. This is a city about power and its division. It is a good place to learn how to gain it, exert it, and, yes, share it. Limiting power, forcing people to share it, is what our constitution is all about. One thing you are easily taught here in Washington is all the little instruments of power you can abuse: the little perks of power like the free meals you can score up on Capitol Hill by just stopping by some “spread” a lobbyist is laying out in some room down the hall. That’s where the idea for the movie “wedding crashers” came from. Some young Hill staffers saw how easy it was to crash a “feed” put on by lobbyists even if you weren’t invited. They simply applied the principle to weddings out in the country beyond this city. Okay, that’s the funny part. The dirty part, the evil part if you can stand that word, is how people who used to work for Senators and Congressman - or still do - learn how to work the system. They exploit the perks. They exploit the familiarity, the comfort, the friendship they gain with elected members of Congress, then sell it out on the street. “Hey, I can get you a meeting with a senator. I can get your business mentioned favorably in the Congressional Record. It’s an easy step - first, just a meeting, then just a little statement in the Congressional record. The congressman doesn’t even have to deliver the speech, just slip it in the record. It’s when this incremental corruption works you up the food chain to where you’re getting taxes and regulations changed based on those personal ties, that’s when the real corruption takes over. Or do you think it’s okay? Think it’s okay to use the connection to get a friend a meeting? Then where do you stop? Someone with a moral register to start with knows. His mind and his gut get it right. Those who don’t, see the main chance. Jack Abramoff, Mike Scanlon, Congressman Bob Ney bought their ticket and took their chances. Corruption is non-partisan. It’s an equal opportunity employer. Greed comes without ideology - and certainly without a party label. You don’t think people on the right - or left - are capable of grabbing and misusing power? Then you haven’t been paying attention.
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Come to Washington with a 'strong moral code'