Friday, January 26, 2007

Tubbs Jones Needs Some
Class, While House Could
Use Another Ethics Chair

Shortly after casting her vote for Nancy Pelosi as the House Speaker, Cleveland-area Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones showed her excitement over her party finally achieving majority status by breaking into a dance. "With the whole House watching, (she) broke out into a hip hop jig known as the 'cabbage patch,' a move that involves clasping one's hands and swinging one's arms as if churning butter," Michael Crowley recounted in a recent issue of the New Republic. She went on to anonymously quote a "dismayed House leadership aide as saying, 'show some class.'"

But it's not really her dancing that should have anyone concerned. Instead, it's the worrisome prospect of her heading a crucial Congressional committee. Last month, she was chosen to chair the House Ethics Committee (at least that's the popular name for what formally goes by the name the
Committee on Standards of Official Conduct). I can't, off the top of my head, think of a poorer choice for the position, at least among the Dems (in the Senate, Republican George Voinovich chaired the Ethics Committee for a time, which was far more outrageous, since he just may be the most personally corrupt member of the entire Senate).

It's not so much that she's ethically challenged herself--though she certainly didn't come off looking good when her name showed up near the top of the most frequent junketeers. It's more germane that she has a distinguished record of inactivity as Cuyahoga County prosecutor, the job she used as a stepping stone to her current position. She was known as the prosecutor who didn't want to prosecute anyone. But then, that's probably why she was chosen for this committee chairmanship. While the Dems won a majority largely because the country had begun to grow weary of the Republicans' ethical challenges, now that they've taken control of the chamber, her party would no doubt like ethics problems to disappear from the headlines. If so, they certainly settled on the right woman for the job.


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