Sleaze in the UK and USA

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

as well.

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One Response to Sleaze in the UK and USA

  1. Simon says:

    Note the straw man in the first paragraph. As if? As if anyone with half a brain ever claimed that the US’s written constitution is what might preclude “sleaze allegations.”

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