Politics can be a very slimy business. We’ve seen politicians go to jail for stealing, lying and cheating: Jesse Jackson Jr., Tom Delay and Richard Nixon, to name a few. We’ve seen sexual indiscretion cost politicians their careers: Mark Sanford, John Edwards, David Petraeus and Anthony Weiner. (Wait, I hear Weiner’s making a comeback! Kind of makes you think we get what we deserve.)
These, and many more, have been elected officials who decided to act outside the system, under the radar, skirting the rule of law within a democratic system that, in theory, works. It’s all slippery-slope kind of stuff that goes on all the time and, when it’s discovered, is dealt with through the democratic process. Whether it’s a criminal proceeding, firing, sanction, impeachment or the will of the people in an election, we have ways of dealing with “bad” politicians.
Then along comes someone who belongs in a different category all together.
This isn’t slippery slope behavior, this “major chasm in American politics” kind of behavior. I’m talking about Kathleen Kane, Pennsylvania state attorney general. Last week she decided that there was a law that she just couldn’t, in good conscience, uphold.
Wait a minute!
Isn’t upholding the law item No. 1 on an attorney general’s job description? She’s not a judge tasked with finding wiggle room in interpreting a law. She’s not a lawyer tasked with finding loopholes to defend or prosecute someone. She’s a cop for God’s sake! It’s her job to uphold the law, all of it, as it has been legally enacted.
Ms. Kane has decided that she cannot defend the state’s ban on gay marriage. While I agree with her stance personally — I believe we should legalize gay marriage — I believe even more strongly that we should not allow any politician to fundamentally erode the democratic system of laws under which we live. Our system of government was designed with mechanisms to address issues like these; Ms. Kane has the leeway to ask lawyers for the governor’s office or executive branch to step in if that is in the state’s best interest. What she doesn’t get to do is impose her own political beliefs in deciding what laws she will and will not uphold.
Look at is this way. Your neighbor hates your hydrangeas and comes over and rips them all out. You call the cops and the responding officer says, “You know, I hate those things too,” and off he goes. You’d be pretty pissed wouldn’t you? Because it’s not the cop’s job to have an opinion about the law, it’s his job to uphold it.
I believe that Kathleen Kane should be fired or removed or impeached or whatever it is you do to get rid of a state’s attorney general. Not for this one infraction, necessarily, but because her refusal to do her job is evidence that she doesn’t even understand what her job is.
Think about how much damage this type of politician can do, not only to the political system in their own jurisdiction but to the foundation of our political system as a whole. We can deal with the slippery slope stuff — the major chasm behavior must be decisively and quickly eradicated.
Kane’s got to go.