Tuesday, October 02, 2007

John Kerry on How to Restore Integrity to Our Government

UPDATE: VIDEO AT KERRYVISION. The KerryVision camera crew was at the Q&A with bloggers and has posted a lovely video with behind-the-scenes material, including the question and answer blogged here.

On Monday, the Unofficial Kerry Blog had the opportunity to ask John Kerry his opinion on the best way to confront the corruption in our government and go about restoring integrity, in a political climate in which some are demanding impeachment of Bush and Cheney while others believe that the Democrats need to focus on getting other parts of their agenda through.

First the context: Senator Kerry gave the last in his series of Faneuil Hall speeches on Monday, October 1st. The speech was a tour de force, as the Senator spoke passionately about the ideas he has stressed all along -- responsibility, fairness, shared sacrifice and service --, this time applied specifically to the economic problems threatening the American middle class. You can watch video of the speech on KerryVision (KerryVision had its own crew there filming) here, or at JohnKerry.com here. Afterwards, the Senator made time for a brief Q&A with bloggers. Below Boston has posted their question and answer here. I next asked this question (you can download the audio by doing a right-click save-as here; the Senator's feelings on the issue come through more forcefully than a transcript can convey):

KVH: I have a question about what we can do about the level of, frankly, corruption in the government -- you know, some people are saying that anything less than impeachment of Bush, Cheney, et al. would not be adequate, while other people say if the Democrats invest too much energy in investigations and hearings and so forth, it's going to detract from getting other important business done. What do you think should be the focus in terms of restoring integrity to the government?

JK: Well, the focus has to be on winning a complete government that believes in those things. That means adding more seats to the House, more seats to the Senate, which we can do. I mean, we have very important races -- Jean Shaheen in New Hampshire, Tom Allen -- I mean, you know, Tom Allen in Maine, and in Colorado, Tom Udall, and so forth. If we can grow four, five or six seats, then we're in a position to override a ve -- you know, to get things done, which we can't do today. The House can pass something with a House rule, because they work differently. But in the Senate it takes 60 votes to actually do anything. So I'd rather focus on doing America's work in a way that draws the lines very clearly between what they're doing and what we want to do.

If you do get too caught up in the fracas of politics, they'll throw everybody out. And you don't want to do that in a state where you've got a very fragile line in a semi-red state or a purple state or whatever you want to call it.

So I think common sense says they are corrupt. But the books aren't going to be closed on that corruption if we can win the government. If we get an Attorney General in place and we have a Congress that then can move, we'll hold people accountable. And I don't disagree with you. I have not seen a level of real corruption -- I mean, it is corrupt, what we've seen in terms of the Justice Department, the contracting, the giveways, the quid pro quos, I mean all of the above. And it's just a lack of enforcement that's allowing it.

As he always does, the Senator gave a thoughtful answer that showed he's given the matter serious thought. Thanks to Senator Kerry for taking the time to talk with us on this important issue.


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