Ricochet is the best place on the internet to discuss the issues of the day, either through commenting on posts or writing your own for our active and dynamic community in a fully moderated environment. In addition, the Ricochet Audio Network offers over 50 original podcasts with new episodes released every day.
Cuomo vs. Madigan vs. Newsom vs. … Cruz? We’ve been treated to a few “political scandals” as of late. Of course, they happen all the time, but four recent ones stand out.
First, the resignation and bribery investigation of former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, a 50-year Democratic fixture in the state’s politics, who just this week resigned from office (he had already stepped down as Speaker). Few politicians have had a stronger grip on a state’s political infrastructure than Speaker Madigan. But allegedly, Speaker Madigan turned ComEd, a large and heavily regulated state utility company, into a job and contracting service for supporters and political allies. I’m sure ratepayers there are interested.
Second, the unfolding COVID/Nursing Home crisis involving New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. We’ve long known about – and the media have largely ignored – his policy decisions early during the COVID pandemic to place COVID-positive patients back into long-term care facilities. Now, we find out that his office lied or, at least, withheld information about it to the federal government and, apparently, a federal investigation is underway.
Third, and admittedly this is now a bit dated, we have Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-CA) visiting a ritzy Napa Valley restaurant, “The French Laundry,” with a group of lobbyists in a semi-confined space while he was ordering a lockdown and mask mandates in his state. Newsom admitted he made a mistake. But 1.5 million signatures later on petitions to recall the Governor, more related to his pandemic/lockdown management than the ill-advised restaurant visit, the damage was done.
Fourth, how many of you have not seen the stories about US Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and his ill-advised family trip to sunny Cancun during the midst of his state’s extreme weather event and subsequent power and water crises? Unlike Madigan and Cuomo, who have admitted to and apologized for nothing, Cruz (and Newsom, to be fair) admitted the trip was a mistake, as if Senators have much to do with controlling state power grids and energy distribution systems, or the subsequent loss of water, food supplies, etc. Much of Texas is returning to 70-degree weather next week.
I’m tempted to add another, the sorry episode of Dr. Rachel Levine, Pennsylvania’s Secretary of Health, for extracting her mother from a nursing home while she was forcing long-term care facilities to accept COVID-positive patients. That just scratches the surface of the Dr.’s abysmal record of mismanagement and incompetence, which continues as Pennsylvania trails most of the nation in administering COVID vaccines. But the real scandal may be President Biden’s nomination of Dr. Levine to be the Assistant Secretary of Health. In that role, the transgendered behavioral child psychologist will oversee all federal health policy, from COVID (and other) vaccine development and distribution to food safety. But let’s leave that aside for now.
I could also add a couple of alleged GOP “scandals” from the early outset of the pandemic, when two Senators, Richard Burr (R-NC), then chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and now former Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) (and frankly a couple of others) made some interesting stock trades just before the market fell(especially for those stocks they sold). However, both have been cleared of any wrongdoing. Some diehards still consider it a scandal, or at least poor judgment. Bad optics alone do not qualify as a scandal.
Now, which of these four scandals have you read most about? Just a guess, but the fourth one sure seems to dominate social media. Yes, it is the most current, perhaps. Most major networks like CNN and ABC are giving little coverage to the previous scandals, especially involving one of its major host’s brother, but boy, were they all over the Cruz trip. Independent/conservative journalist Andrew Muse was all over what United Airlines and CNN actually did, which looks a lot like a doxxing episode to me, and more newsworthy.
Nevertheless, these “scandals” offer an instructive way to assess degrees of outrage that should be assigned, and guide proper responses. They include:
Did your actions result in, or contribute to, someone’s death?
Did you trade and/or abuse your public office for personal or political benefit?
Are you guilty of hypocrisy?
Did you exercise poor political judgment?
Lastly, are you under official federal or state investigation for potential crimes?
These are pretty obvious. Being responsible, directly or indirectly, for the avoidable deaths of people, then trying to cover it up, strikes me as a big deal, right there at the top of my pyramid for genuine scandals. Same with trading your office illegally for personal or political benefit. Speaker Madigan allegedly carried water for ComEd in the legislature in exchange for them awarding nice jobs and contracts to his political supporters.
But hypocrisy and especially “bad optics” from a poorly thought-out decision? They may be embarrassments, and even politically damaging. But unless there are dead bodies, illegal payoffs, or criminal investigations, sorry, that’s not a scandal and not worth 3 minutes on ABC World News Tonight. Or much of time by anyone.
Oh, sure, Sen. Cruz is an easy mark. He’s notoriously unpopular in the minds of many, much of it from his 2016 presidential campaign. He came across as arrogant, smarmy, unctuous, and disingenuous, to many. I’ve met Sen. Cruz (disclosure – I voted for him in the 2016 Pennsylvania presidential GOP primary election) and think that characterization is unfair. His reelection margin in 2018 was by only a couple of percentage points, and Beto O’Rourke, his skateboard-riding opponent – mostly because he was just running against Cruz – gathered a mind-blowing $80 million in political campaign contributions and outside spending, if not more. Just as bad, he supported Trump and had the audacity to support holding off certification of Pennsylvania’s electoral college count due to a desire to investigate irregularities there.
But even people you may not like deserve a little fairness. Even from the media.”Cruzgate” is no scandal. It may be an embarrassment worthy of a few memes. Fine, and some are funny. But, really, to call it a scandal? That’s just stupid. The real scandal may be the media’s constant insults to our intelligence.Published in