You have to feel for him, you really do.
Watching Rep. Randy Cunningham (R-CA) humbly and tearfully confess his crimes and resign his House seat in a public appearance yesterday had to move all but the coldest hearts, even after the angry denials this past summer. Don't get me wrong, this guy committed some of the most egregious betrayals of public trust imaginable, and hopefully his sentence will reflect that. He voted for a war and then profiteered from it handsomely. And I don't know much about the guy or his record in congress outside of the headlines he's grabbed over the last 5 or so months, other than the fact that he's probably not a Rhodes Scholar. For this, one needs to look no further than the transparencies of his crimes, or the fact that he formerly marketed a $600 buck knife illegally sporting the official seal of Congress on his web site.
But something happened yesterday which we have not witnessed in a very long time, to that degree. He took real responsibility, real accountability. He admitted unequivocally that he broke the law and tried to impede an investigation. No excuses, caveats, disclaimers, evasion, spin or defense. No assertions that "it's not a real crime", accusations of prosecutorial persecution or adventurism, no claims of partisan agenda from him or his defenders as we hear from Messrs. DeLay & Libby and their crowd. No claims that "I didn't know what was going on, it was my subordinates" like we hear from the likes of Ken Lay, Dennis Kozlowski and Bernie Evers. Sure, they had the Duke-Stir dead-to-rights, he wasn't going to slip out of that noose too easily. But he didn't have to put himself through the pain and humility of his public apology and admission, with no ambiguity, no gray area. Lighter sentence because of it? Highly unlikely. This guy knows there's a good chance he'll die in prison. He's a cad of the worst sort for sure, but in the end he showed a shred of character. Not a bunch, but more than the larger bunch in D.C.
FOLLOWUP: So what happens now to the people who paid the bribes? That's just a tad illegal as well.
UPDATE: I've changed my mind, this guy is a headcase.