Abscam! Good times, good times …

Via a link on Huffington, the article House Democrats name Hoyer to No. 2 post – Yahoo! News mentions Murtha’s difficulty with Abscam:

Murtha, 74, was a problematic candidate because of his penchant for trading votes for pork projects and his ties to the Abscam bribery sting in 1980, the only lawmaker involved who wasn’t charged.

FBI agents pretending to represent an Arab sheik wanting to reside in the United States and seeking investment opportunities offered bribes to several lawmakers. When offered $50,000, Murtha was recorded as saying, “I’m not interested … at this point.” A grand jury declined to indict Murtha, and the House ethics committee issued no findings against him.

I know that Abscam has come up in some coversation I’ve had some time in the last couple years, but I haven’t really thought about Abscam much for a very long time. This mention of a politician’s career being still tainted by something that happened over 20 years ago sure makes me wonder what 20 years will do to the reflection on the current time. How will the 109th be viewed, I can’t help but wonder?

It also occurs to me that while I remember Abscam as being a bit of a set up some how, I certainly can’t help but wonder how easy it would have been, like shooting fish in a barrel, to catch a bus load of the 109th in a sting accepting dirty money and gifts. In some ways, the fact that such a thing didn’t really happen is a testament to how little oversight there has been.

But, then again, when everyone seems to have gotten dirty, it’s a bit like volunteering to go hunting with Cheney, to start up an investigation like that. You’ve got to have some kind of expectation that you’ve got allies in powerful places to whom you can come to, out of the cold. Without that, I can see where self-preservation would suggest running for cover.

There’s got to be a way to make speaking truth safer, but I suppose speaking truth to power is never really safe. Maybe there should be a medal for whistleblowers that has some kind of pension attached to it? But, then, there’s just more chance for partisan cronies to be awarded a windfall, while dirt on power is swept under anything convenient.

Now I’m reminded once again of the Intensify / Downplay Schema.