Swamp gas: Rangel, Waters put Pelosi on the defensive
As incoming speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives more than three years ago, Nancy Pelosi famously vowed to preside over the most ethical House in congressional history. Pelosi promised to "drain the swamp" after a number of ethical lapses by Republicans.
Now that vow is bubbling up like nasty heartburn after a supper of five-alarm chili.
Pelosi and her Democratic allies are on the defensive with two of their own, Reps. Charlie Rangel of New York and Maxine Waters of California, accused of breaking House rules for personal gain. Pelosi and her lieutenants ridiculed Republicans as purveyors of a "culture of corruption." Now it looks like they've got a septic tank of their own.
Rangel and Waters say they're going to fight accusations against them in separate House trials. But in a sense, Pelosi is on trial.
Her defenders say she never guaranteed that no Democrat would ever break House rules, only that if they did she would do a better job policing up the mess than the Republicans did theirs.
That's probably not what most Americans believed they heard when Pelosi uttered her swamp-draining vow. It sounded like she was promising higher standards, better behavior and more after voters punished Republicans in the 2006 elections.
Pelosi's caucus obviously has its shortcomings. With the Rangel and Waters proceedings in September and possibly stretching uncomfortably close (for Democrats) to the fall elections, it's getting harder for Pelosi Democrats to avoid the "culture of corruption" tag that helped sink the GOP four years ago.
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