Notes on Political Venality, Pomposity and Associated Stupidity.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Chiding the Bribe: Santorum's laughable payoff scheme

Some years ago, during the height of a political campaign it dawned on me: why not just take the millions that had gone into the production and airing of TV and radio commercials and the just hand it over to the voters? Imagine that, instead of getting a direct mail piece from Senator Gluck replete with scathing indictments of his competitor, that you'd get one of those money envelopes that Aunt Betty used to give you for your birthday! Inside would be a crisp-from-the-bank C-note and a not-too-subtle request that you payback Gluck by pulling his lever on Election Day.

This was, of course, a silly idea, for it amounted to nothing more than an outright bribe.

So imagine my surprise when Rick Santorum and a couple of his buds in Congress came up with the same idea this year! For the party of supposed "fiscal discipline" the idea should have been DOA, but when you're "in a tough re-election campaign" (Santorum's excuse for all misdeeds) the concept floated around DC for a couple of weeks, before being, ultimately, laughed out of town.

The idea is just too preposterous for words. Among other things, it would do nothing at all to ease the long-term issues with energy and it would rachet up the deficit for no good reason. Also, it's just stupid.

But for Rick, who wakes up every morning and worries about his flagging poll numbers, who has been a hard and fast Bush acolyte from the start, a bribe must have seemed like a swell idea. A $100 government-issued inducement to "vote for me in November."

In the end, the Santorum payoff did not payoff -- except, perhaps, for Bob Casey, Jr..