"Laws are like sausages — it is better not to see either being made" is a saying often misattributed to 19th century German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck, the founding father of the European welfare state.
Today we have the worst of both these worlds: two congressional lawmakers who share the names of sausages, Reps. Anthony Weiner and Barney Frank.
Both exhibit an overbearing arrogance and haughtiness. Both are quick to slash with their sharp tongues anyone they deem inferior to themselves — which includes nearly all conservatives and Republicans. And both have been involved in sexual controversies.
New York City Congressman Anthony Weiner, facing evidence that he had sent photographs of himself in various stages of undress to female Internet correspondents, this week confessed to at least some of his sins, declared that he accepted full responsibility, and then refused to resign the office he had disgraced.
His 9th District, stretching from south Brooklyn to central Queens, is liberal enough to re-elect Rep. Weiner no matter how distasteful his revelations, or how disrespectfully he treated his wife.
His district's voters, however, may not get the chance if his rapidly-widening scandal proves politically embarrassing and threatening to fellow Democratic officeholders.
New York is losing two congressional seats because of the 2010 Census, and state lawmakers had agreed that one of these must come from downstate. This controversy may mark the un-resigned Weiner's district as the Democratic seat targeted for extinction.
Back in 1987 Rep. Barney Frank, a junior congressman from Massachusetts, was plunged into controversy over a male prostitute who had run prostitution services from Frank's home.
Rep. Frank denied knowing of this criminal enterprise, but many were skeptical. Frank had used his position as a member of Congress to fix the parking tickets of call-boys who apparently double-parked while servicing clients.
Frank was on the verge of being censured by colleagues and potentially losing Democratic Party support for his re-election.
But then something remarkable happened. Frank refused to apologize or lie down and cooperate.
If he went down, Frank let it quietly be known to his colleagues on both sides of the aisle, he would not go alone.
According to a narrative journalists shared with one another at the time, allegedly Frank had threatened to expose closeted lawmakers, staff members on the Hill, and party higher-ups who had been clients of said prostitution services.
Frank got off with the gentlest of slaps on the wrist and has been an arrogant force in Congress and the media ever since.
Had he been ousted, Frank would never have played his seminal role in forcing banks to give out a trillion dollars in subprime loans to unworthy, mostly-Democrat-voting borrowers.
The bundling and marketing of those bad mortgages precipitated the Great Recession that began in 2008 and that even now has America on the brink of economic catastrophe.
Does Rep. Weiner have any dirt on his colleagues to save himself?
Are these the moral messages we want our children and grandchildren to learn?
Lowell Ponte is co-author, with Craig R. Smith, of "The Inflation Deception: Six Ways Government Tricks Us, and Seven Ways to Stop It," in bookstores in late June.
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