vote for him.
Last year, Schiff championed efforts to have $463,785 appropriated to
a nonprofit organization working on a documentary about the Armenian
Genocide, part of a project to educate the public on a holocaust of which
many are ignorant. Mangassarian flatly insists the funding was a bribe in
exchange for the support of Armenian-American voters. I am willing to
accept that characterization, but only if Mangassarian will similarly
characterize efforts by Schiff's campaign opponent, incumbent Rep. Jim
Rogan, to secure funding for projects of interest to his constituents.
For example, the last budget passed by Congress included a $1-million
appropriation Rogan asked for to help refurbish Pasadena's Civic
Auditorium. If Schiff's half-million for an effort cheered by
Armenian-Americans in his district is a taxpayer-funded payoff, isn't it
inarguable that Rogan bribed Pasadena residents to vote for him -- and
that his bribe was twice Schiff's piddling offer? Mangassarian says "No."
One is a bribe, one is not. Period.
In fact, I don't think either official bribed anyone. They responded
to requests and served their constituents. Let's save for another day
bickering about potential alternatives for the cash. The episode
exemplifies for me a characteristic I find utterly maddening in campaigns
-- the patently naked double standard. I even experience bouts of empathy
for politicians of every stripe who are victimized. My concern over them
being treated unfairly is usually mitigated when they show no reluctance
to do unto others exactly as has been done unto them.
As I've noted before, we often put pols in a no-win spot. A group will
deride an official's inaction on an issue. Then, when the official jumps
into the fray with both feet, another faction accuses them of pandering,
playing election-year politics. I try to reserve those judgments for
officials who demonstrate a pattern of merely conveying the appearance of
participation, as opposed to establishing a record of meaningful action.
But even when an office holder hurls themselves into an issue, taking a