Monday, June 05, 2006

THE POLITICS OF CORRUPTION -- A look at the impact, or lack thereof, of corruption as a political theme in California's 11th Congressional District:
Enraged by what he saw as corruption in his own party, a 78-year-old legend of Republican politics emerged from retirement this year to challenge House Resources Committee Chairman Richard W. Pombo for California's 11th Congressional District seat.

But as former congressman Pete McCloskey traverses Pombo's district hammering the incumbent for ties to former lobbyist Jack Abramoff and indicted former House majority leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.), one response has been dominant, he conceded: shrugs of indifference.

With California's Tuesday primary approaching, McCloskey's experience may have broader significance for the larger contests in November. The "culture of corruption" theme featured so prominently in Democratic campaign literature may not be so potent, after all.

"When I talk about ethics, the response quite often is, 'Yeah, he's a crook, but he's our crook, and isn't everybody a crook out there?' " McCloskey said in an interview last week. "I'm not sure it makes much of a dent on anyone in [California's] San Joaquin Valley who's worried about water, the traffic and air that has become some of the worst in California."