Robert Menendez and corruption in politics

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Robert Menendez and corruption in politics

Postby cmsellers » Sun Nov 19, 2017 1:19 am

The Atlantic has this article about two corruption cases that ended in deadlock. One of them gives me yet another reason to hate police unions, the other is been something I've been wanting to start a topic about for awhile: the trial of New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez for corruption.

Even though Menendez is very clearly guilty of terrible judgment (I think he's guilty of corruption too, though ten out of twelve jurors thought otherwise), the Democrats have basically been saying "we'll cross that bridge if he's actually convicted." This seems like a terrrible idea, considering that the appearance of corruption was grounds to condemn Trump. The best-case-scenario is that Menendez gets re-elected and presents a handy "whatabout" for Republicans to point at if Robert Mueller finds evidence of corruption but not collusion.

The worst-case scenario, from the Democrats' perspective, if that the corruption becomes an issue and he manages to lose what should be a safe seat in a deep blue state in a year when the Democrats are doing reasonably well. I complain about Ted Cruz, but honestly, in an election between Ted Cruz and Robert Menendez I'd vote for Cruz. I disagree with him on most things and some of what he believes scares me, but he's not corrupt, and I believe that that's a greater danger to our democracy. A relatively moderate Northeastern Republican would be an even easier sell, though Chris Christie, who fits that description and was even more corrupt than Menendez, may be fresh in NJ voters' minds.

I don't think that the author is right that we live in a golden age for corruption. We've had corruption issues in the US for awhile, but this isn't the Boss Tweed era come again. Massachusetts had our fun with Finneran, Elliot Spitzer did more than just see prostitutes, and Illinois has had so many problems with corruption I've lost track. However Rod Blagojevitch went to jail, Tom Finneran lost his law license and his pension, and Elliot Spitzer resigned in disgrace. We can and do prosecute corruption, even if the prosecutors don't always "get their man," because the US has (admirably) high standards for proving guilt. (Though it's a pity we don't apply them consistently; Jamal Doe could use the same benefit of the doubt we extend to Bob Menendez and Ted Stevens.)

And US politics is relatively clean compared to almost anywhere else in the world; only a few places in Europe and elsewhere in the Anglosphere are better. Still it bothers me that so many voters are willing to excuse the appearance of corruption (and other forms of official misconduct) from their own party as "oh, innocent until proven guilty." That applies for criminal proceedings for a good reason, but I strongly believe that our elected officials should be held to a higher standard than "we can't prove he did anything."
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Re: Robert Menendez and corruption in politics

Postby cmsellers » Mon Nov 20, 2017 6:26 pm

It's looking like the feds probably won't try for another conviction and Robert Menendez had this to say about his not-quite-acquital.

Bob Menendez wrote:To those who embraced me in my darkest moments, I love you. To those who were digging my political grave so they could jump into my seat, I know who you are and I won't forget you.

That has to be one of the most New Jersey political statements ever uttered. Tony Soprano would be proud.

Meanwhile, FiveThirtyEight has an article that says: The fundamentals of New Jersey's lean, the Democratic advantage on the generic ballot, and the power of incumbency, mean that Menendez has a thirty point advantage on the fundamentals. His corruption means that he has roughly a 12.5 disadvantage on the fundamentals, meaning he'd be expected to beat a generic Republican by almost twenty points. And no credible challenger has emerged from either party.

Surprisingly, two of FiveThirtyEight's most vocal Trump supporters who say it best.
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Screen Shot 2017-11-20 at 11.05.04 AM.png (58.86 KiB) Viewed 75 times

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Screen Shot 2017-11-20 at 11.05.19 AM.png (86.79 KiB) Viewed 75 times


Meanwhile, FiveThirtyEight's Democrats are basically doing this
Image

Which in fairness, is pretty much how I feel too.

I've decided that if I have a job by that time, I'm going to send any halfway credible challengers of Menendez in either the primary or general election a small donation as a sign of moral support.
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