November 28, 2005

"He did the worst thing an elected official can do."

"He enriched himself through his position and violated the trust of those who put him there."


The Drill SGT said...

This one is very sad. He's guilty as sin and needs to be punished to the max. However it's a shame that forever more his guilty plea and crimes will be the lead para, even to his Obit. Up till now it would have been:

In 1966, at the age of 25, Cunningham joined the U.S. Navy and became one of the most highly decorated pilots in the Vietnam War. As the first fighter ace of the war, Cunningham was nominated for the Medal of Honor, received the Navy Cross, two Silver Stars, fifteen Air Medals, the Purple Heart, and several other decorations.

Duke's experience in Vietnam and his background as an educator prepared him well to train fighter pilots at the Navy Fighter Weapons School -- the famed "Top Gun" program at Miramar Naval Air Station. As Commanding Officer of the elite Navy Adversary Squadron, Cunningham flew Russian tactics and formations against America's best combat fighter pilots. Many of his real-life experiences as a Navy aviator and fighter pilot instructor were depicted in the popular movie "Top Gun."

The lesson here is that you have nothing of greater value than your good name.

XWL said...

I guess you don't need a lottery win to build your dream home, just stay in congress for more than a decade.

And I couldn't help but noticed AP's unbiased inclusion of Rep. DeLay, Sen. Frist and Mr. Libby at the end of this article.

Former Rep. Cunningham has plead guilty, forfeited his ill gotten gains (at least the ones with the greatest evidence) and appears contrite.

But I have little sympathy for him. The most ridiculous part is that given his constituency (heavily Republican, and heavily military) the possibility that this bribe changed his vote is remote. The defense contractor was buying a vote that he already had in the bag.

There is something missing from this story that has yet been reported, it doesn't make any sense to buy the vote of someone who is already on your side.

vnjagvet said...

In the play/movie A Man For All Seasons about Saint Thomas More, More says to his betrayer, Richard Rich:

"Why Richard, it profits a man nothing to lose his soul for the whole world... but for Wales??"

Apparently Cunningham never internalized this truth.

In this case, he gave up not only his soul but his whole world ...for a house?

vbspurs said...

We have now a piling-on of corruption charges, and nefarious situations tied to one Party, same as the US went through in the 1990's with Dan Rostenkowski, Whitewater, etc.

It's started.

Even if some of the charges are fishy in the extreme (the ones against DeLay and Frist, e.g.), the American people are already getting the impression that the Party in power at the moment, are knee-deep in corruption.



Bruce Hayden said...

I find this extremely tragic given his background. I watched a History Channel special on famous dogfights or some such, and Cunningham was included.

Bruce Hayden said...

One point made elsewhere is that there has been absolutely noone on the right defending him. Rather, the consensus is that he did the right thing in resigning and should do his time.

Contrast this with Bill Clinton, who was defended by many on the left well after he admitted to lying to the American people and had been found in contempt for lying under oath.

EddieP said...

Like Nixon, Duke broke the law, got caught, and resigned his position of trust.

Would that Slick Willie were made of the same stuff.

Bruce Hayden said...


But that is the problem. This has been a clean Administration. Cleaner than any that I can remember. The only indictment I know of of someone in the Administration is Libby, and that was for the coverup. The Frist "scandal" isn't going anywhere, and I think DeLay has a decent chance of walking. So, you have one senior Congressman here. And that is pretty much it (ok, maybe we have to include the Sec. of the Interior and Indian funds - but that happens with every administration).

But the general populace is getting the impression that this is a corrupt administration because the MSM is constantly telling them it is. It isn't. Rather, it is propoganda.

In the end though, it all won't matter. A decade from now, we will look at a list of those convicted, etc. in this Administration and the Republican Congress and compare it to what happened under Clinton, and note which list is shorter. Much shorter.

theMickey's said...

Term limits, term limits, term li....

Bruce Hayden said...

I mentioned comparing lists of those convicted during the Clinton Administration to the present one. This list came from PoliPundit on the same topic as this:

Webster Hubbell
Jim McDougal
Susan McDougal
Gov. Jim Guy Tucker
Stephen Smith
David Hale
Eugene Fitzhugh
Charles Matthews
Robert W. Palmer
Chris Wade
Neal T. Ainley
Larry Kuca
Henry Espy
James Lake
William J. Marks, Sr.
John Latham
John Haley
Michael Brown (Ron Browns son)
Eugene Lum
Nora Lum
Johnny Chung
Tyson Foods
Sun Diamond Growers
Richard Douglas
James Lake
Ron Blackley
Smith Barney
Crop Growers Corporation
Brook Keith Mitchell Sr.
Five M Farming Enterprises
John J Hemmingson
Alvarez T. Ferrouillet, Jr.
Municipal Healthcare Cooperative
Ferrouillet & Ferrouillet
Linda Jones
Patsy Jo Wooten
Allen Wooten
Roger Clinton
Dan Lasater
Bill McCuen
Dan Harmon
Roger Tamraz (Lebanon by default)

The Drill SGT said...


Henry Cisneros, the HUD Sec
Sandy Berger, NSA

XWL said...

Term limits would be good, but I have a modest proposal that might solve problems like this.

(and to any Secret Service agents who might follow the link, My proposal is Swift not serious)

Ruth Anne Adams said...

The fact that others did bad stuff doesn't make his bad stuff less bad. Ethics challenges seem to affect Republicans more than Democrats. As a republican, I'm somewhat heartened by that because it means there are still moral standards to maintain.

The Drill Sergeant's post was most enlightening. I didn't know those facts about Cunningham and I'm a little surprised they weren't at least briefly mentioned in the original MSM article.

O.K. Not really surprised. Thanks for the facts.

Undecided said...

With basketball jocks making millions and congress guys and gals making squat comparatively speaking, you've got to wonder why we value the people who are running our country so little. If you don't buy that argument then consider the salutory effect of paying our representatives, say, a salary of a million dollars per year. The bribery scandals would disappear as would the powerful influence of lobbyists. I personally don't believe anyone, including a CEO, needs that kind of money. Ann's previous post about the perverse effects of winning the lottery is a testament to what can happen when an individual controls vast sums of money. It's kind of obscene, if you ask me. In conclusion, I believe that we, the public, ought to remove the temptations politicians are subject to by paying them to do our bidding and not that of some greedy corporate type with deep pockets. Those highly paid lobbyists and bad businesspeople are destroying what's left of our formerly decent country.

Palladian said...

"I personally don't believe anyone, including a CEO, needs that kind of money."

The road to collectivism and despotism is paved with stones bearing that inscription.

Anyway, I've come to believe that the founders didn't intend for people to be career politicians. I think they understood their positions as ones of service rather than profit, and all made their fortunes in unrelated fields.

Term limits.

wildaboutharrie said...

Well, the list of Reagan administration convictions is longer, so it's certainly not a party issue. And is it fair to plump the Clinton list by including the briber as well as the bribee? It's long enough without the non-crony padding.

Anyway, I feel bad for the Congressman. The wonder of it is, how can anyone enjoy their ill-gotten spoils? Wouldn't you constantly be obsessing about getting caught?

SteveWe said...

This is sad. I'm sure I voted for Duke in each of his eight elections before relocating to Asheville, NC this year. One of the reasons I left SoCal was the pervasive chasing after the big house, the expensive care, and the luxurious lifestyle. It's a very contagious disease unless you guard against it and strive for integrity.

Aspasia M. said...

This is sad. When he started to cry he seemed very sincere.

Why would someone do something so stupid?

Undecided said...

"The road to collectivism and despotism is paved with stones bearing that inscription."

No, I believe people should work/contribute to society by working, not by living in a 5th Ave. penthouse like JFK Jr. did before he died with a $100,000,000 trust fund that his mommy left him. Even worse is the $100,000,000,000 that the Walton family of Wal-Mart fame controls. Your problem is that you don't understand what a zero in a decimal place means.

You are also quite wrong about term limits. We have them for state office here in California and they're a dismal failure. The politicians are more beholden to lobbyists than ever before. The politicians, under term limits, are forever thinking about how they're going earn a living when their term is up. Also, what if a congressperson is doing a yeoman's job for his or her constituents? Why do you want to force then to jettison their beloved representive? Why do you pay lipservice to freedom, yet want to limit it with term limits? Also, your suggestion that only well-to-do people should run for congress like U.S. Senators already do, is a sickening suggestion. I disagree with everything you say and stand for.

XWL said...

Undecided: I think you are wrong about term limits being a problem in California. It's gerrymandering, seat trading (I'll give you my 2nd district if you take my 3rd district) and leaping from assembly to senate that have allowed presumptively term limitted politicians to infect the halls of Sacramento long past there sell by date.

And as far as your calls for caps on compensation, that path does lead directly to socialism, and that equals stagnation, unemployment, and unrest (take a gander at France, Germany and Canada if you don't believe me).

All human systems have the possibility to be tainted with corruption. Politics more so than most other endeavors.

Serious competition within the two parties (to drive out safe seat long term party hacks like Rep. Waxman or Rep. Hyde to give an example from each party) and between the two parties (which is stifled with gerrymandering) and even the possible formation of serious alternatives from the grass roots local levels (a city council seat here, an assembly seat there could eventually lead to serious alternatives to two party rule) are possible fixes for the continuing mess that is government.

And capping compensation is a step towards socialism which has a habit of descending towards collectivism. Down that road lies stagnation, unemployment, unrest, and the utter cessation of innovation (take a gander at France, Germany, or Canada if you please)

Palladian said...

"Your problem is that you don't understand what a zero in a decimal place means."

Well, your problem is that you don't understand what private property and economic liberty means. Maybe you should be aware of where your envy-based philosophy leads and instead channel that energy into creating decimal places for yourself rather than schemes for taking them from others.

dcwilly said...

For those comparing the numer of folks indicted in the Clinton administration with those in the current regime........imagine a GWB term with Democratic Congress and a devoted partisan prosecutor with an unlimited budget (e.g. Lani Guinier or even a Ronnie Earle) and see how many current Bushies would be indicted. Likely an equal number.

Palladian said...

As an aside, when did we start calling the US administration a "regime"? Just curious, as the word seems to carry with it rather negative connotations. I suppose that's the point, but it just seems callow.

Ok, upon looking it up, it does connote an authoritarian government, and has its roots in late 18th century France where "Ancien RĂ©gime" was used to refer to the monarchy/aristocratic system.

Pat Patterson said...

It's too bad that the American republic doesn't have its own Tarpeian Rock for grafters like Cunnigham. Aside from the actual crime he betrayed the trust of the people who elected him.

Troy said...


Term limits? How bout session limits. Is the CA legislature ever out of session? Hell they spend my money every damn day. When I lived in Texas those jokers (and they WERE/ARE jokers) were only in session for 6 months every 2 years. People would squawk about how they couldn't get anything done -- a good thing on balance. The lobbyists still run the show, but damage is limited when they have togo back home and farm or practice law or whatever it is they do back home.

Congress is the same way. Who says they have to meet year round? Remove the A/C and go back to 19th c. swampy DC -- the one with crickets the size of my hand and yellow fever mosquitoes. That will stop the mess (he says half-jokingly).

Buck said...

Here is bio of Cunningham's aviation career (and short, short sections on his other accomplishments), including a blow-by-blow account of that dogfight you saw on the History Channel, Bruce.

This is a sad story, indeed.

ChrisO said...

That list of supposed Clinton associates is all the rage on the right wing blogs, despites its essential dishonesty. A proper title for the list should be "people convicted by Ken Starr," because that's all most of them have in common. A couple of examples: Jim Guy Tucker is convicted of fraud in a cable TV deal. A former business partner of Tucker's, William Marks, along with Tucker's attorney, John Haley, are also convicted. Congratulations, gentlemen, you just became "Clinton associates."

Or how about David Hale, who claims Clinton tried to pressure him into giving Susan McDougal a loan, despite the fact that Clinton says he never met Hale. Oh, by the way, Hale came up with the story while trying to plea bargain after being convicted of trying to defraud the SBA. Voila, Hale just became a "Clinton associate." And while we're at it, let's throw in Eugene McHugh and Charles Matthews, convicted of trying to bribe Hale. Mr. Clinton, mmeet your new "associates."

I haven't researched every name on the list, because just looking into the names outlined above was enough eveidence of the misleading nature of the list that it's not worth considering.

It's laughable that so many Republicans are so unable to own up to wrongdoing on their side that they continue to trot out Clinton to excuse anything done by a Republican politician. Cunningham took wads of cash in return for political favors, and bought houses and cars. There's no ambiguity there. To say he somehow has more honor than Clinton because he resigned is a sick joke. I'm not excusing Clinton, but I don't think a contempt of court citation compares to that level of graft.

And Bruce Hayden's claim that this is the cleanest administration in memory is ridiculous. The administration's not over yet, and anyone who doesn't see the storm clouds on the horizon, particularly in the Abramoff case, just isn't looking. How many indictments of people in the White House had been handed down in year five of the Clinton administration?

I do give Cunningham his due, however. He didn't have much choice in the matter, but the fact is that he didn't mealy mouth through his statement or make a lot of excuses. He certainly took full responsibility for his actions.

Eli Blake said...

For those of you on the right who seem to think that the MSM is somehow dominated by liberals because they DO their JOB and report stories like this,

Right now the Lead story on CNN online is about corruption bringing down the government. The left-leaning government of Paul Martin in Canada.

But acknowleging that (or for that matter the nonstop hounding of the Clinton administration pretty much every day) wouldn't fit with your view of the world, so you choose to ignore it and blame the messenger for reporting about scandals on the right (and name me a single current elected Democratic governor, congressman or Senator who is under indictment or is being investigated by any Federal or state agency of a crime).

And don't forget that right now, the current Governors of Kentucky, Missouri, and Ohio are either being tried, investigated or recently pleaded guilty (maybe avoiding the prospect of going to trial like recent IL gov. George Ryan, or joining recent CT gov. Roy Rowland behind bars).

SippicanCottage said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
wildaboutharrie said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Ruth Anne Adams said...

Sippican: You o.k.? It's like you fell into a Bartlett's Famous Quotations or a fortune cookie writing mill.

The Drill SGT said...

One postive comment about Duke here. His resignation / conviction speach was heart felt and honest. He said he was sorry, he screwed up and was ashamed to have let people down as I recall it.

Unlike many politicans, who when forced to apologize frame it as though they are apologizing for YOUR problem:

1. I'm sorry if anyone was offended
2. If you interpreted my statement negatively, for that I'm sorry


the pooka said...

It's a timely reminder: Those with a background in the military are no better or worse than anyone else simply for that fact. There are good eggs and bad eggs in business, government, the academy, the military, and everywhere else just alike. This has tended to get forgotten lately.

The Drill SGT said...


You get a pretty good spread of personalities in the military. I'm going to make a sweeping generalization here, and it will get me in trouble as all generalizations do, but it's based on 30 years of observation. Fighter pilots tend to be the most, how should we say it, deviant from conventional social norms and values. You've all seen Top Gun and a hundred other movies with military aviators in them. I guess I would describe it as:

Fighter pilots are not convinced that beyond the laws of physics, that other laws and regulations are actually mandatory for them. And a few bold pilots think that they are such hot sh-- that the laws of physics can be ignored if needed. Duke was an Ace and a Top Gun. Duke probably felt that rules were made to be broken, after all he had bent more than a few before. Tail Hook Conventions come to mind as an example of wretched excess based on the premise that there are laws for normal folk and "guidelines" for fighter pilots.

Special Ops guys have much the same world view.

Many Other types of officers tend to be very very Conservative (not politically conservative specifically) and observant of laws and regulations.

OK, pilots let me have it :)

Ruth Anne Adams said...

The Drill SGT: I would agree with your observation and add to that list US Army Rangers and the men of the 82d Airborne Division.

Seems like high speed units require an extra 'bravado' gene or something. As a JAG I observed these fellows bend the rules to the point of breaking.

But, by God, you want them on your side in a fight!

The Drill SGT said...

Ruth dear,

We PC folks say Soldiers of the 82nd now :)

I count the Rangers in the SO community. Did you do anything with the Special Forces? As I understand it they are legendary in their creativity when it comes to travel and expense claims.

john(classic) said...

I disagree with the quote that you used for your title.

Seems to me that there are many worse things that an elected official can do than take a bribe.

(I am not defending bribery here-- merely saying that there is worse).

Ruth Anne Adams said...

The Drill SGT:
PC Schmee-see!
As I was a woman in the 82d [notice no "n" in that spelling], I meant what I said. I never had to defend or prosecute a woman [there were so few of us, actually and so aware of it that we didn't move out of place]. I really meant 'the men' of the 82d. The other connotation is not the officers of the 82d [as in 'the officers and men of the brigade'], which would also be true.

No SF stuff to report: I once did a boon-doggle with the Rangers prior to the Panama Invasion. All the rest is still classified. I could tell you, but then I'd have to kill you, as they say.
Ruth Anne :)

The Drill SGT said...

Perhaps Ann was thinking about the context of "worst thing that an elected official can do within the context of his official capacity"

Sure, you can be a murderer, thief or adulterer, but that doesn't go directly to your official capacity (and don't go there with any BUSHITLER Crap)

I agree with her that selling of his office and that is what bribery is, is about as bad as it gets. I think that the only thing that tops bribery in a legislator would be bribery for a Judge.

What crime is worse for a legislator?

The Drill SGT said...

Point taken.

I would have thought you would have heard stories at the O'club about things over at the Warfare Center

My wife is a NG JAG BTW.

The Drill SGT said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
The Drill SGT said...


I never knew about the 82d thing. However I went to what I assume is the Division home page and the title is

82nd Airborne Division

and elsewhere 82d

were you an officer? Inside joke coming up.

what gives?

Ruth Anne Adams said...

The Drill SGT:
Yes. I was a JAG officer. No lawyer jokes, please [Professor Althouse abhors them].

I've heard the "Desk from Above" jokes [bought the t-shirt].

Otherwise, tell away.

The Drill SGT said...

I guess perhaps the comment will fall flat with you but here goes.

I've always teased my wife, who would have normally stated that she was a JAG, that she became an officer somewhere between Major and LTC.

My argument. Doctors, Lawyers and Nurses start out their military careers as Professionals wearing a uniform (sometimes poorly) rather than as Officers (large O).

My proof would be the TV show Mash. I ask folks about how many "Officers" were part of the principal cast. It's easy for folks to recognize that COL Potter was an officer and a Doctor. I point out that the rest of the Docs are civilians in uniform and really anti-officers. The second officer is Major Houlihan. She tries to run an efficient operation and is clearly in command of her nurses.

My Premise:
- Nurses are officers by the time that are Captains. By then they are charge nurses commanding wards of sick and injured with soldiers (corpsmen) under their command.
- Doctors become officers at Colonel, if ever. Proof, Colonel Potter. Doctor Colonels command hospitals and are administrators/leaders of professionals.
- Lawyers are in the middle. as I said, I think my wife became an officer somewhere after Major but before LTC. I don't have a good rule for them, it's on a case by case basis. You just know. All I know is that as a Major, she still needed help getting her ribbons and brass on properly for Photos and award ceremonies. Oh well, and I know a lot more about the UCMJ than she does. I was a commander, she is an acquisition / contracts type. We met at CECOM. And not a gender based observation BTW. Remember I named Houlihan as an officer/leader.

so this really wasn't a lawyer joke after all. But really an officer observation :)

In your case, you named yourself a JAG with the 82d the first time. That's how my wife would refer to herself even now. The second time you said you were a JAG Officer.