The theme is common among Burns supporters – he’s been “exonerated” or “cleared of all charges”. Eric Coobs reminds us that he was right all along, just like he always is.
It’s kind of annoying. Burns may be many things, but innocent is not one of them. The man played politics like a pro – was there ever any question that he was handing out favors right
and left to supporters and holding on to office by bribing us with our own money. Simply put, he was a disgrace.
Was he a crook? Well, that’s just it. There’s no smoking gun. He reminds me of Barry Bonds – we all know (except sports writers) that Bonds was juicing – is there any question? His stats took off in his late 30’s, when most ball players are in decline. His head expanded, he got angry and arrogant, he lost his hair. All circumstantial, but in the end, circumstantial evidence will convict. Some times that’s all you’ve got.
And we have that aplenty on Burns. We have Abramoff’s own words that he was using Burns and his staff to get things done. We have people treading back and forth between staffs, Burns changing his vote on legislation and supporting just about everything Abramoff wanted. It’s not as obvious as his hair falling out, but it’s enough for me.
Corruption is endemic in our culture. Our political system is designed to be corrupt, to favor people with money. The return on investment for ‘contributors’ is immense – billions of dollars in federal funds change hands for the passing of a few thousand dollars to a candidate’s coffers. Politicians have no choice but to sell out – if they don’t, they lose money at the rate of $2 for $1 – every dollar that they do not collect goes to their opponent. That scares them.
Burns was never shy about doing favors – I’ll never forget how he introduced a bill as his own that had been faxed to him by the Montana Wood Products Association – it still had the fax monikers on it. That kind of favor was routine for Burns, if you played ball with him. He was a corrupt politician, a crude jokester with racist tendencies, and a private joke to the 99 other senators who were not him.
The investigation of Burns is over – he’s not vindicated nor is he innocent. He’s just gone. No matter how good or bad Jon Tester turns out to be, I’m happy about that.