No sooner did unemployed army veteran Alvin Greene win the South Carolina Senate Democratic primary, and the report surfaced that he had a felony obscenity charge against him, the predictable happened. State Democrats screamed for him to drop out of the race. South Carolina Congressman Jim Clyburn screamed for a federal investigation calling him a GOP dirty tricks stooge. The media poked endless fun and ridicule at him.
Their mirth and hysterics over Greene is laughable. Here's a guy who spent no money, did not campaign, ignored the party bosses, and did not churn out a slick campaign papers, and deliver canned speeches that promise voters the moon if elected.
In the age when Democrats and Republicans plop down $100 million dollar in state elections, hire teams of high priced consultants, handlers, and plastic image makeover artists, and the public seethes at the corrupt, special interest choked, political system, Greene's tabula rasa blank political slate alone should make him a political hero. Hardly, so; an unproven charge of showing dirty pictures to a student was the hook South Carolina Democratic Party apparatchiks needed to come after Greene with both barrels blazing. The sex allegation, though, is the last thing that politicians on both sides of the aisle should try to hang Greene with. In recent years, more than 20 well-known Democrat and Republican elected officials have been caught with their pants down in well-documented illicit sex escapades. While, there's righteous rage about Greene, there's collective amnesia about their hijinks. But lest we forget here's the rogues list of mayors, governors, and congresspersons complete with party affiliation and the dates of their transgressions.
Republican Bob Livingston, Republican Helen Chenoweth (1998), Republican Dan Burton (1998) Republican Henry Hyde (1998) Democrat Gary Condit (2001): Republican Rudy Giuliani (2002), Republican Larry Craig:
Democrat Jim McGreevy (2004) Republican James West (2005): Republican Don Sherwood (2006): Republican Mark Foley (2006):
Republican Newt Gingrich (2007): Democrat Gavin Newsom (2007): Democrat Antonio Villaraigosa (2007) Republican David Vitter (2007): Democrat Tim Mahoney (2008): Democrat Eliot Spitzer (2008): Democrat David Paterson (2008): Democrat John Edwards (2008): Republican Vito Fossella (2008): Democrat Kwame Kilpatrick (2008): Republican John Ensign (2009):, Republican Mark Sanford (2009). We'll also toss in Barney Frank, Henry Hyde, Dan Burton and one woman Helen Chenoweth.
The charges against them weren't for allegedly flashing taboo pictures but full blown, rip roaring crimes and morals charges including adultery, prostitution, and sexual pandering. That's just the kinky stuff. The nearly 100 senators and congresspersons that have been accused of, implicated in, under suspicion for, indicted, and convicted dwarf the list of Republican and Democratic elected sex offenders. Their crimes include corruption, taking payoffs, money laundering, kickbacks, graft, illegal campaign contributions, perjury, fraud, bribery, tax evasion, and interfering with a federal investigation in the last decade.
Then there are the garden variety congressional ethics probes. At the end of 2009 more than 30 lawmakers and various aides were called on the carpet by House ethics investigators for dubious activities related to defense lobbying and corporate influence peddling, the line-up of alleged offenders was sprinkled across both sides of the aisle, and included some of the best known, most influential and high ranking House committee members.
Greene's only known alleged crime is showing the dirty pictures to a student, and then having the gall to scroll his name on the South Carolina ballot, and then do nothing afterwards. That's more than enough to draw the self-righteous wrath of South Carolina Democratic Party officials and chuckles from the state's sex and corruption scandal plagued GOP. But if somewhere in fantasy land Greene actually took a seat in congress, and the sole charge against him were the questionable pictures, he could do just what a legion of his congressional colleagues have done when caught in motel bed rooms, bus station bathrooms, and with their hands dipped in various tills and that's publicly pray, shed a tear, beg for forgiveness, and continue on their merry way. If he did, he'd be in good company.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. His new book is How Obama Governed: The Year of Crisis and Challenge (Middle Passage Press).
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