11/27/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

The Tip of the Iceberg

The amazing thing about Alaskan Senator Ted Stevens isn't that he was convicted of seven counts of fraud. It's how trivial his infractions were in the first place, ranging from accepting a free massage chair to a dog sled. But even if Stevens is going down for fairly minor crimes, his conviction offers a potent reminder of over a decade of GOP larceny that reached its apogee with the looting of the federal government on behalf of corporations and George W. Bush and Dick Cheney's cronies.

What really worries Republicans about an Obama presidency, then, isn't simply the prospect that he will have a veto-proof majority in the Senate, one that has become even more likely with the Stevens imbroglio. It's also that the Justice Department would no longer be in the hands of pliable functionaries who have shielded the administration from the kind of scrutiny it deserves. While Obama will be preoccupied with mending a wrecked economy, more revelations of Bush administration misdeeds are sure to surface in coming months. In that sense, the downfall of the Alaska Senator could well be the tip of the iceberg.