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So so scandalous

9 October 2009

I googled the phrase “Political Scandal” while browsing the interwebs, looking for a topic on which I can express a clear opinion.  One of the first results was a link to Wikipedia’s page on the aforementioned topic.  I’m sure if you view the page yourself you’ll make the same kind of immediate observation that I did.  There have been a lot of political scandals in our history and I’m certain there are plenty not mentioned here.

Out of curiosity, I begin doing word searches within the pages to get an idea as to how many scandals revolved around specific activities.  They appear below:

“Sex” – 61 Scandals
“Homosexual” – 10 Scandals
“Corruption” – 34 Scandals
“Bribery” – 45 Scandals
“Murder” – 3 Scandals
“Sentenced” – 59 Scandals
“Prison” – 43 Scandals
“Plead guilty” – 3 Scandals
“Extortion” – 17 Scandals

It’s pretty clear that our elected leaders have a taste for the unethical.  Every day that passes, our 24 hour news media is covering a newly evolving scandal.  I’d like to recount some of the more infamous debacles below.  My personal top four scandals in history, if you will.

4.  Ted Kennedy, recently deceased, is probably best known for his work on civil rights and healthcare reform.  However, early in his career he was part of one of the most well known scandals in political history.

Ted Kennedy's Car

Ted Kennedy's Car

On July 18th, 1969, Ted Kennedy was at a party on Chappaquiddick Island in Massachusetts.  His date was a 29 year old woman by the name of Mary Jo Kopechne.  On their way home for the evening, Kennedy lost control of the vehicle and drove over the side of a bridge and crashed into the water below.  Mary Jo Kopechne drowned, trapped inside the vehicle.  Ted said he attempted to rescue her alone and, again, moments later with the help of two men on shore.  However, he waited to report the accident and associated death of his date until the next day.  Many speculated that Kennedy was driving while intoxicated, but 1969 was a different time.  “DUI” was not a well known acronym like it is today.

3. Watergate was not only a well known event but the source of adding “gate” to any other noun to create the name for a scandal.  It also paved the way to the moment that left us with one of the most famous quotes in history; “I am not a crook.”

Watergate

Watergate

May 27, 1972; Seven men broke into the Democratic Headquarters in the Watergate hotel in Washington D.C.  to wiretap phones, photograph people, and steal documents.   On June 17th, later that year, a wiretap malfunctioned which forced James McCord to break into the hotel again.  This time, McCord was spotted by on-site security and was arrested.  A month later, in August, President Nixon announced that the break-ins had been investigated and that no one in the White House was involved.  Although pain staking efforts were made to dispose of incriminating evidence, President Nixon was eventually caught in illegal activity on a tape recording.  On the recording the President was heard authorizing large pay-offs to possible accessories of the break-ins in exchange for their silence.

On August 9, 1974, President Nixon resigned.

2. Ronald Reagan may have given us “trickle-down theory” and “Reaganomics” but he also sold Iran an arsenal of weaponry.

robert mcfarlaneOn July 8, 1985, President Reagan told The American Bar Association that Iran, Cuba, Libya, North Korea and Nicaragua were part of a “confederation of terrorist states.”  What he didn’t say is that his administration had been selling weapons to the Iranian government.  The profits from the weapons sales went covertly to Nicaragua where sovereign rebel forces, aka “Contras,” were attempting a coup de tat.  Reagan’s administration, or more precisely – Robert McFarlane,  sold weapons to Iran and sent the profits to terrorists trying to overthrow a democratically elected governing body.  When this information became public, Oliver North and Fawn Hall shredded documents which would, no doubt, incriminate them and their counterparts.

President Reagan denied any knowledge of the arms sales but later recanted his statement by saying he had been “misinformed.”  In February of 1987 the President was found not guilty by a special review board charged with investigating the arms sales.

1. Finaly, my favorite political scandal thus far:  Senator Larry Craig’s bathroom bromance.

Senator Larry Craig

Senator Larry Craig

In June of 2007, Senator Larry Craig was laid-over in the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. While using the facilities in a bathroom stall he decided to solicit a man in an adjoining stall for sex.  Unfortunately for the Senator, his stall-mate turned out to be an undercover police officer.

Senator Craig was arrested for disorderly conduct and later plead guilty to the charges brought against him.  After making his initial plea, the Senator attempted to reverse his admittance of guilt but the Minnesota court did not allow the retraction.  The Senator later made a public statement; “I am not gay.”  According to the Senator, the only thing he did wrong was to admit to charges he was not guilty of.

There you have it!  These are my four favorite scandals… so far.  Everyday is another big beautiful opportunity for another public figure to horribly discredit themselves.

(pssst – suggest this blog to a friend!)

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