Looks like GOP leaders aren't seeing what I saw in Republican lawyer Joseph Cao's triumph over corrupt incumbent Bill Jefferson -- namely, that it was essentially a fluke victory facilitated by Jefferson's penchant for keeping bribe money on ice. Ryan Grim finds Minority Leader John Boehner extrapolating boldly out from Cao's victory in a memo to House Republicans entitled "The Future Is Cao":
The Cao victory is a symbol of our future. In the two years ahead, House Republicans will demonstrate our commitment to reform by holding ourselves to the highest possible ethical standard ... Just days before the Cao win, Speaker Pelosi declared she "does not foresee" a change in the current leadership of the Ways & Means Committee, whose chairman [Charlie Rangel] faces questions about potential abuses of tax laws and House rules.
Today, Cao, tomorrow, the world!
But really, I just doubt how immediately susceptible the Democratic majority will be to corruption attacks from the GOP. It takes a while for the kind of reputation Tom DeLay and Duke Cunningham bestowed on the GOP to dissipate. The strategy feels anachronistic, too -- like trying to graft the strategy that worked for the Democrats in '06 onto a different political moment. The House Republicans already tried to play the Rangel angle this past cycle, to no particular effect. Now, Rangel certainly is not American ruling class's most angelic figure, but in the midst of a huge financial meltdown, he's far from the most dangerous, either.
P.S. Commenter ratnerstar, you're famous!