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Monday, November 28, 2005
A Hero Falls

Rep. Duke Cunningham resigned today, after admitting that he accepted bribes during the course of the performance of his duties as a member of Congress.

Cunningham is an American military hero, a fighter pilot who was one of only two American "aces" during the Vietnam war. In Congress, he was a strong supporter of men and women in uniform and was viewed as one of the top 2 or 3 members on the hill when it came to military issues.

He is, of course, deserving of whatever punishment comes his way. Nonetheless, it is hard to deny that this is a sad and tragic way for an American hero to close out his public career.

I kinda sorta remember that Mel Reynolds (D-Shakedown) was convicted on similar charges and received a pardon as Clinton was on his way out the door. Though Cunningham is probably more deserving of a pardon than Reynolds (given his age and his service to his country), at this point I would oppose any sort of pardon for Duke. He broke the public's trust and he deserves to go to jail.

It is a tragedy, though.

I agree that this is a tragedy. What's interesting is that there are enhancements to the federal sentencing guidelines for "betraying the public trust" which elevates the penalties for public officials. Given his public service, I wonder if the prosecutors will push for it.
Regardless of his service, he needs to be jailed. I am tired of debate over re-writing the standards because he "once". The guy might have been a hero at one point, but now he is a fallen hero. Put him in the clink with the rest of the lot that mis-use the public trust for there own profit.
I have to agree with mmark. As tough as it is... Cunningham crossed a line that just can't be crossed. I'm not sure why he did it -- it is doubtful he needed the money... My sense working on Capitol Hill is that there is plenty of honest graft to go around for the dishonest among us, so there is no real incentive to pursue the dishonest kind.

The people who typically boxed themselves in were those who rose to power in corrupt machines where illegality was part of the culture -- that's why you see so many officials from Chicago brought down. Cunningham doesn't fit that mold... he isn't beholden to anyone in his district... he would win it no matter who supported or opposed him...

Tragic. But Mmark is right -- he needs to be punished appropriately, regardless of his prior service.
1)I have to agree with mmark. As tough as it is...
2)Tragic. But Mmark is right --

I thought you guys always agreed with me.
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