Thursday, July 07, 2005

"Why should I?"

Yes, that was Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham's petulant response when a reported asked him if he was considering resigning his position as wave after wave of corruption and bribery allegations washed over the eight term representative.

When asked about his plans on Tuesday, Cunningham responded with confident bravado:

"We're going to fight this through to the end," (emphasis added) he said before making a speech to the Escondido Rotary Club that was closed to reporters. Asked if he planned to seek a ninth term, he replied, "Absolutely."

Well Duke, here's a clue: If you don't quickly develop an exit strategy, your fellow Republicans will do it for you. According to a new article by Copley News Service that's the position that one leading observer of Congressional elections is taking:

"People are waiting to see when he gets out -- not if he gets out, but when he gets out," said Stuart Rothenberg, an independent analyst who closely monitors House elections.

"This is a lot more than innuendo and accusations. This is serious stuff," he said. "And while, officially, his party is behind him here in Washington, there is a significant sense that this is big trouble."

Cunningham appears damaged beyond repair and his initial failure to address his constituent's concerns before legal actions tied his hands is either evidence of Cunningham's inability to comprehend the gravity of this situation or it is a demonstration of the extent to which Cunningham lacks any credible defense or justification for his actions.

[Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics] said the constant flow of revelations is likely fatal. "The drip, drip, drip will kill an elected official every time," he said.

Also potentially lethal for Cunningham, he said, are the pictures of agents raiding his home last week -- "Just unprecedented," he said -- and the fact that the basic facts are so easily understandable. Nobody needs a CPA to understand the allegation that a defense contractor overpaid for Cunningham's house to increase the congressman's take by $700,000 or to have the same contractor name a yacht after him.

It is just a matter of time before one of Cunningham's close political friends takes him aside and suggests that he step aside for the good of the party. And, that will be "the end".