The USA is the world’s greatest democracy, right? It has a written
constitution incorporating all manner of checks and balances which
largely preclude the sort of sleaze allegations which have plagued
Cabinets both Tory and Labour in recent years. As if.
The New York Times runs today with an
astonishing investigative piece about New Jersey senator Robert
Torricelli which would automatically result in his resignation were
he a UK MP. The interesting thing about it is that it’s really not
that investigative: it’s obviously based on the findings of a federal
investigation into the senator which began more than three years
ago and which only recently has looked into the obviously sleazy relationship
between Torricelli and David Chang, one of his largest campaign contributors.
The evidence in the Times piece is damning: Torricelli wrote
effusive letters on Chang’s behalf to senior members of the South
Korean government, including the prime minister, in an attempt to
help him buy an insurance company he was ill-prepared to run; he even
brought Chang along to a meeting with the finance minister which was
meant to be about foreign relations with North Korea, something which
forced a formal apology from the US Ambassador.
But Torricelli is still blithely continuing as a senator. Has he
no shame? Well, he is an American. But compared to the sort of activity
which forced the resignation of Peter Mandelson, he ought to be long
I have a feeling that in the final analysis, the degree of political
sleaze, and the degree of acceptable political sleaze, is directly
proportional to the amount of money floating around parties and politicians.
America has more money than anywhere else, so it’s got more sleaze