I’m going to go against the prevailing wind here and give a futile explanation of why I think the witchhunt against Ted Stevens is an example of our worst self destructive tendencies. I know I’m going to convince no one, but writing this diary entry will make me feel better.When I gave a short response to Erick’s post calling for Steven’s head, the response that I got from Neil really bothered me:
Innocent until proven guilty only counts in court
This statement bothers me a great deal. Let give a personal story to explain why.
One of my sons is now 22 years old, and has been a challenge all of his life due to Tourette’s Syndrome. He is generally a good kid, but has gotten himself involved with some bad people in the past. Fortunately, he realized a few years ago how bad friends will drag him down too, and moved on to new friends.
The problem started for him when one of these previous “friends” was arrested for drug possession and was offered a plea agreement if he gave up names. Apparently, he gave up every name he could think of, including my son’s. We knew nothing of this, but he started getting pulled over by the police for numerous traffic stops, with no apparent reason. Finally, during one of these stops, the officer saw a single pill laying in the back seat. He assumed it was Oxycontin (it wasn’t), and arrested him.
As it turns out the pill was dropped by one of his passengers, and it was a prescription medication (high blood pressure I think). Under Florida law, possession of a medication without a prescription is a felony and my son ended up with the DA unwilling to drop the charge, and pushing forward for a conviction (remember they think he is a drug dealer). Long story short, the only way out of this was to go into a drug rehabilitation program, which meets 3 times a week during the afternoons with weekly drug tests. He is in a class with very hard core junkies because it is the only way to avoid a felony conviction.
Because the class meets in the afternoons, he lost his job. And he can’t get a new job because everyone checks arrest records prior to employment and won’t hire him because he was arrested. Conviction is irrelavent.
The point is that “innocent until proven guilty” does very much count in places outside of court. And I think our proclivity to throw anyone with the hint of a scandal under the bus plays right into the hands of the opposition. All they have to do is find one questionable activity, and Redstate and NRO will post in bold headline on the front page XXX must resign!
Look at the list of people on our side of the aisle that we have destroyed, demanded the resignation of, or allowed to be destroyed because we hold ourselves to a “higher standard”: Lott, Libby, Craig, Vitter, Foley, Delay, Gingrich, Livingston, and now Stevens. For God’s sake, Foley committed no crime and was revealed to have engaged in activities that another member of Congress had also engaged in. But since he was a Democrat, he stayed in Congress for years afterward. Barney Frank is still there. William Jefferson is still there (with help from the Republican leadership). Do I approve of Foley’s actions? No I don’t. But it should have been for the voters to decide. Instead, we drum him out of Congress within hours of the scandal hitting.
In our rush to hold ourselves to a higher standard, we give our opponents the tools for our own destruction. All they need to do is find a willing accomplice in the legal system, and they are able to get us to self immolate. Look at the pictures Moe showed of John Kerry yesterday. We laugh about it, but if that had been John Kyl instead of John Kerry, would our reaction have been the same? If it had been John Ensign instead of John Edwards that was caught in the hotel in Beverly Hills, would we be making jokes about the silky pony, or would we be calling for blood? Posters on this board would rather we lose in November, than have Mitt Rommney on the ticket, because he hasn’t been pro-life long enough. If we use these standards, then McCain should drop out too, because of the Keating scandal.
Erick, you are a lawyer. You should know how perverted our legal system has become. Has it been perverted in the case of Ted Stevens? Probably not, since it is a federal indictment. But it isn’t a conviction and while we don’t approve of his pork weilding ways, being an appropriator isn’t a crime. I worry that we are sliding down the slippery slope toward the criminalization of political policies. This is where Kucinich is now with his hearings calling for impeachment of Bush. There be dragons here.
I was raised in a very Christian household; my father is a minister. I am very troubled by our unwillingness to forgive. Jesus said, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” I worry that we have lost the core of our Christian philosophy and now stone all who do not meet our very exacting demands for political and social conformance. We are becoming what we despise about the Left, where thought and reason are lost in the quest for ideological purity. We have lost our ability to forgive and let God be the judge of a man’s soul.