05/04/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

It's a Swamp Thing

The thing about promising to drain the swamp is that people tend to remember. Then they expect you to do it.

What a pain in the gavel!

Actually, that's only partially true. (The expect-you-to-do-it part, I mean -- not the pain-in-the-gavel part, which is totally true.) They don't all expect you to do it. You're a politician, after all, and some of them know -- or think they do, which is just as dangerous -- what a politician's promise is worth. So they were happy to dismiss that swamp-draining promise of yours the moment it came out of your ever-smiling mouth:

Campaign talk. Nothing but campaign talk.

And some of the rest of them -- people who might have been inclined to give you the benefit of the doubt, because why would you promise to drain a swamp if you weren't going to do it? -- took a little longer to reach essentially the same conclusion:

She's a politician. Just like all the rest of them.

* * *

The thing about running the committee that writes the tax laws is that you're sitting right there in the spotlight. When you don't play by the rules you write, people tend to notice.

Even when it hasn't yet been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that you don't play by the rules you write, people still tend to notice. They don't much like it. They don't even like the allegations.

Why do you get special favors? And special trips, and special deals, and special handling, and --

They don't like it a bit.

And if you're a major player in the party that promised to drain the swamp, they like it even less -- the ones that weren't perfect cynics from the get-go, that is. The perfect cynics never expected any better of you. (Does that make you feel any better about yourself?)

So you'll step aside, you say. "Temporarily," you say.

Good luck with that.

* * *

The thing about being an accidental governor is that people tend to be sympathetic. You didn't ask for all the attention. You certainly didn't seek it out. You were thrust into something bigger than your dreams, something as big as the Empire State, when the clean-as-a-whistle guy who was actually elected to the big job turned out to be not quite clean-as-a-whistle. Turned out, in fact, to be splashing around in his own little swamp.

So you were Plan B, the man left standing when the big guy fell. Fair enough. You'll do what you can to make it work -- that's the most anyone can expect from you.

Oh, and one more thing they can expect from you: that you won't go anywhere near a swamp.


* * *

The thing about being the party that didn't promise to drain the swamp is that you're responsible for nothing. You get to point, and posture. You get to talk about how the other party isn't living up to its promises.

"They're no better than we were!" you argue. "Might as well put us back in charge."

And the most cynical argument of all:

"At least we won't disappoint you."

Rick Horowitz is a syndicated columnist. You can write to him at