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Wednesday, January 07, 2009

The Company You Keep

Endeavor, as much as you can, to keep company with people above you.... Do not mistake, when I say company above you, and think that I mean with regard to their birth; that is the least consideration; but I mean with regard to their merit, and the light in which the world considers them. Philip Dormer Stanhope, 4th Earl Chesterfield (1694–1773)

The Massachusetts Democrats have reelected the ethically troubled Salvatore diMasi as Speaker of the Massachusetts House.

Usually unanimous, the Democratic Caucus had something of a horse race in putting forward Speaker diMasi's name. One of his Chairmen, Rep. Torrissi, had announced that he would vote 'Present', as he thought diMasi ought to step down in light of his possible legal troubles - certainly, the appearance of impropriety rivals that of "Gov. Blago" of Illinois. Indeed, the final vote tally had several Democrats who voted 'Present'.

One Cape Cod Democratic representative declined to do so. According to the Cape Cod Times (Porcupine would link to the story, but oddly it isn't on the Times’ web site), Rep. Turner stated the he 'didn't see anyone named Present running', and "Short of his being indicted, then I guess you are innocent until proven guilty." Not yet indicted - THERE is a standard of leadership for Democrats to aspire to. Newly elected islander Tim Madden said, "He is the only one running, so that makes it a pretty easy vote."

But that is not accurate. Minority Leader Brad Jones, Republican of Wakefield, also ran for Speaker. To be sure, he isn't a Democrat but leads the tine sixteen member Republican Caucus (for now - he was only reelected by a vote of 9 to 7 against the charismatic Rep. Evangelides).

Had any of the Democrats wanted to vote against diMasi, he did have an opponent. The 8 of the 146 Democratic members who voted 'Present' deserve some credit - indeed, Rep. Greene voted for himself. But the rest chose to condone illegality.

Say it was politically expedient. Say you were afraid of the Speaker's power and decided to give him more of it. But don't whine that you didn't have a choice. You did, and you chose party over ethics, and that vote is recorded against you for good.


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