If Democratic media wizards don’t make an ad out of Bob Herbert’s column in today’s New York Times, take it as a signal that the party’s media mavens are utterly clueless. Here’s a vivid image from Herbert’s column, begging to be captured in a widely-televised Democratic political ad:
It’s beyond astonishing to me that John Boehner has a real chance to be speaker of the House of Representatives….I’ve always thought of Mr. Boehner as one of the especially sleazy figures in a capital seething with sleaze. I remember writing about that day back in the mid-’90s when this slick, chain-smoking, quintessential influence-peddler decided to play Santa Claus by handing out checks from tobacco lobbyists to fellow Congressional sleazes right on the floor of the House.
It was incredible, even to some Republicans. The House was in session, and here was a congressman actually distributing money on the floor. Other, more serious, representatives were engaged in debates that day on such matters as financing for foreign operations and a proposed amendment to the Constitution to outlaw desecration of the flag. Mr. Boehner was busy desecrating the House itself by doing the bidding of big tobacco.
Embarrassed members of the G.O.P. tried to hush up the matter, but I got a tip and called Mr. Boehner’s office. His chief of staff, Barry Jackson, was hardly contrite. “They were contributions from tobacco P.A.C.’s,” he said.
When I asked why the congressman would hand the money out on the floor of the House, Mr. Jackson’s answer seemed an echo of Willie Sutton’s observation about banks. “The floor,” he said, “is where the members meet with each other.”
Do the American people want such a guy controlling the U.S. House of Representatives? I think not. But it’s up to Democrats to show them who the Republican speaker-in-waiting really is. Herbert has pretty much written the script. All the ad-meisters have to do is hook up a little creative re-enactment.
The scene above should be enough. But, if you need more, Herbert’s got it:
…The amount of democracy-destroying money that manages to make its way into the sleazy environs of what is now known as Boehner Land has increased to a staggering degree.
The Times’s Eric Lipton, in an article last month, noted that Mr. Boehner “maintains especially tight ties with a circle of lobbyists and former aides representing some of the nation’s biggest businesses, including Goldman Sachs, Google, Citigroup, R.J. Reynolds, MillerCoors and UPS.
“They have contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to his campaigns, provided him with rides on their corporate jets, socialized with him at luxury golf resorts and waterfront bashes and are now leading fund-raising efforts for his Boehner for Speaker campaign, which is soliciting checks of up to $37,800 each, the maximum allowed.
The hack who once handed out checks on the House floor is now a coddled, gilded flunky of the nation’s big-time corporate elite.”
Herbert’s got more, much more, so extensive are Boehner’s and the GOP’s predations. Commend Herbert for writing a great column — his Pulitzer is long-overdue. But Boehner’s history should be dramatized, so the public can see exactly what members of congress have been witnessing for years and who will be running the House if they vote for Republicans. If Dems don’t show them, who will?