President Mitt Romney wanted to talk about his meeting with the Pope today, but instead he was besieged by a swarm of reporters shouting questions about the remarkable string of high-profile Republicans arrested by the FBI, or resigning under federal investigation, over the last few days.
“President Romney, several prominent Republicans were arrested yesterday, including the mayor of one of the nation’s largest cities, on charges ranging from corruption to purchasing weapons from international terrorists,” a reporter shouted from the crowd. “Does your Party have a problem?”
This was the refrain on talk shows across the land. Media analysts discussed the astounding hypocrisy of a leading Second Amendment proponent and NRA ally in Texas – whose long career in GOP politics included service as an officer in the state legislature – facing indictment for an astonishing series of charges related to his involvement in a gun-running ring. “This guy was always talking about gun safety, how he’s a champion of the right to keep and bear arms for law-abiding people… and here he’s raking in big bucks trying to put automatic weapons and freaking missiles in the hands of gangsters!” thundered Chris Matthews of MSNBC, immediately before suffering a stroke live on the air.
Other Republican officials in deep red states saw their offices raided by FBI agents this week, as part of investigations into political corruption, and even child pornography. Meanwhile, questions swirled around the embattled Republican Senate Majority Leader after revelations that he funneled tens of thousands of dollars in campaign money to his granddaughter – an amount much larger than he originally admitted to, after facing an inquiry from the Federal Elections Commission. Many Washington observers say that while these payments may prove to be a minor infraction of campaign finance law, the “appearance of impropriety” would haunt the GOP during the upcoming midterm elections.
“It’s entirely appropriate for reporters to be hitting the President with tough questions about these incidents,” a CNN executive said on background. “I mean, you’re talking about all these officials in different states – a big-city mayor, a major national player in the gun-rights movement – going down simultaneously. The Senate Majority Leader is in trouble. Some of the details of these cases are simply amazing – people are going to be buzzing about ‘Shrimp Boy’ and that Republican mayor fanning himself with wads of illegal cash for years to come. There’s no way to keep stories this juicy off the front pages. President Romney absolutely has a crisis on his hands.”