Sunday's NYT lead editorial:
Well before Election Day, the smart-money lobbyists of K Street were already shifting campaign donations to safe Democratic incumbents, greasing access to the next Congressional majority. That should be warning enough to the incoming speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, and Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, to deliver quickly and credibly on their campaign vows to attack the corrupt, quid-pro-quo culture that besotted the Republican-controlled Capitol.Most of the time, I don't think Rahm "gets it," to the point where I think he generally does more harm than good. But he totally Gets It on this issue. The Democrats must absolutely shatter the "both parties do it, all politicians are corrupt" mindset that tars them every time a Republican gets busted. They must forcefully establish themselves as the clean party, the integrity party, especially with corruption playing such a major role in ousting the Republicans. The public demanded a cleanup last month, and the Democrats ignore them at their peril.
Yet even before the new Congress arrives, there is disquieting talk of advance compromises on what will be done — or not done. It’s fortunate the incoming members will be in the Capitol this week, preparing for January and, not incidentally, observing the lame-duck finale of the Congress that failed on this vital issue.There will be only one good chance to get this right. Once the new year begins, any feeling of urgency will fade, replaced by a determination to acquire, and protect, whatever power and turf are available.
A field general of the incoming majority, Representative Rahm Emanuel of Illinois, is already warning that failure to deliver on ethics reform will be “devastating to our standing” in the very first moment of Democratic power.
And if it costs them some lobbyist money, so what? Their campaigns won't need as much funding if the voters know the Democrats are morally upstanding straight shooters (and the Republicans not). And surely they'd be willing to trade a few more free meals and trips for improved job security. Not only that, but a more toothsome ethics office gives them a chance to make life miserable for corrupt Republicans, and maybe even expel some of them. Yes, it's possible some Democrats might get caught up as well, but so be it. The ethics office should treat them fairly, and do whatever the evidence and the rules tell them to do. Again, I think in the long run they would gain far more than they would lose, and we would gain a less corrupt, less corporate Congress.
So please, Democrats, listen to Rahm, just this once. I promise I won't ask you to do it ever again.