BAD PLEDGE. Forgive...

BAD PLEDGE. Forgive me for getting all Massachusetts on you for a moment, but the worst thing done by Nancy Pelosi, both during the campaing and continuing since Tuesday, was her declaration that she was going to run the squeakiest-clean Congress there absolutely ever was. In the first place, it's a promise she is wholly unable to keep. She can no more keep every member of her caucus personally honest than I can. Sooner or later, every caucus has someone overcome by the greedyfingers and, now, there's a perfect frame built in which Pelosi gets a huge portion of the blame when rookie Congressman Grabitall gives his drunk brother-in-law a superhighway for Christmas. (Progressive groups are already starting to fungo Jack Murtha's head all over the Beltway, using Pelosi's vow for the bat.) Lobbying reform? OK. Gift bans? Count me in. But the cleanest Congress ever? A sucker's bet. If men were angels, as my man Jimmy Madison once mused...

Moreover, the goo-goos unnerve me. The greatest crime committed by the late majority was in attempting to establish a permanent monopoly in the market of the exchange of favors. Graft -- both honest and dishonest -- should be at all times democratic. In this way, as in many things, I have to go back to poor Lyndon, who was more than a little crooked, but who rose through the system to fight for the Voting Rights Act and give the greatest speech any president has given in my lifetime. On that evening in March of 1965, only someone without a soul would have wondered how he bought his ranch.

--Charles P. Pierce

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