Talk about the commonwealth last night and today has concerned the fate of former governor Bob McDonnell. That is, Republican Governor Bob McDonnell, as the media are fond of noting.
I’ve never met a politician who didn’t engage in some type of influence peddling. That’s what politicians do. It’s the equivalent of charging a musician with playing music, or a businessman of conducting business. The business of politics is trading favors for money or other favors. I don’t think Bob McDonnell should go without penalty for that reason, but seriously, of all the people to make an example of…
The tension between McDonnell and Mrs. McDonnell is what made this case. We love a good soap opera. That and name-brand clothing and accessories. But Jeebus, if every politician who accepted gifts in exchange for political considerations we’d be all out… wait a minute, this could work.
The problem is not the selling or trading of favors. It’s the value of goods available to today’s politician. When Thomas Jefferson was governor of Virginia he wasn’t taking Rolex watches. What was he going to give in exchange? A cow? Today’s politicians control literally trillions of dollars in assets. This is not rocket science. It’s political science. Decrease the rewards available and the incentive to skirt the rules drops in kind.
My verdict in this case? Let McDonnell go to prison. And let’s start a nice long line behind him.