What lessons can we learn from the politics of moral outrage in Washington?
For 10 years, Congress has been funding an investigation of former Clinton administration Housing Secretary Henry Cisneros.
The bill to taxpayers is now $20 million for services of Washington attorney David Barrett, the investigator, who said he'd have a 400-page report one of these days to justify his work.
Why the investigation? Cisneros lied about how much he paid a mistress back in the early 1990s. But didn't Cisneros plead guilty to a misdemeanor six years ago and pay a $10,000 fine? No matter. For $20 million, Republicans behind the senseless, ongoing investigation gave a friendly lawyer a career in hopes of coming up with more dirt about a Democrat.
That is nowhere near the extravagance of the $60 million investigation of Bill Clinton's lie about crude sexual dalliances.
The question that should be asked is this: If a lie about how much presidential Cabinet officer Cisneros paid a mistress was worth a $20 million investigation and Bill Clinton's lie about sex justified a $60 million investigation and impeachment of Clinton, does leading Americans into war in Iraq on false grounds justify an investigation of President George W. Bush?
Probably. But talk of investigating Bush is silly, and so, too, is periodic brave talk about impeachment.
Politics, not justice, is the key.
The Republican-controlled Senate and House that do the president's bidding won't suddenly turn on him and investigate his decision to go to war, much less finance a probe, despite growing evidence he lied.
Republican Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, longtime adviser to Bush and on the short list for a Supreme Court vacancy, surely wouldn't be a party to investigating his boss.
Democrats who feel the president violated the spirit of his oath are surely in no position to claim he betrayed them: Democrats voted down the line with Republicans in approving the war, approving war budgets and approving the controversial Patriot Act they're now timidly criticizing.
President Bush also has often defended his Iraq expedition by citing the Clinton administration's suspicions about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.
For those who're connecting dots, they now see why the president wants to pack federal courts with conservative automatons: fashioning a Republican government from top to bottom acting in unison to approve whatever a string of Republican presidents to come want to do.
This political nirvana is being expedited by a Democratic Party whose Washington leaders are so hollow and shallow as to be a national humiliation.