The William Jefferson story prompts me to make a point about my political opinions: While I'm rabidly, radically liberal, I'm also rationally liberal. It pains me to see a situation that's apt to give a congressional seat over to the Republicans, but I'm sorry to say that I have no support for Representative Jefferson, a Democrat from Louisiana, who's been caught pretty much red handed (or maybe "cold handed" is the right metaphor here, since the bribe money was found in his freezer).
The actual bribery accusation has almost been lost in all the furor since, stemming from the FBI search of the congressman's office, an unusual move that was immediately and strongly protested by members of congress of both parties. Congress is questioning the search on constitutional grounds — separation of powers, a consitutional base that this administration has often trampled — which could involve the Supreme Court in the matter. It got to the point where the three top officials in the Department of Justice threatened resignation if the material confiscated in the search was ordered returned. This prompted Baby Doc to order the evidence sealed for 45 days, to allow the issues to be addressed.
That circus aside, I have to agree with the Washington Post's editorial, that Jefferson should step down now. Naturally, he's professing his innocence, but one must be realistic. He's on camera taking the money. And they found it, as I said above, in his freezer; cold, hard cash, as we say. It's pretty hard to deny culpability here — how many people stick a case full of money in the freezer? ("Oh, my error; I thought it was the standing rib roast I bought on the way home.")
It's not just the Republicans who deserve criticism when they do something wrong. Both sides have to be honest. When they're not, they all must be held to account.