Saturday, November 22, 2008


The idea for this blog arose out of a conversation my father and I had this summer while I was home on vacation. I can't remember if there was a specific political scandal in the United States at that time. Credit for the title goes to my father, although I suppose this will be more of an encyclopedia than a dictionary.

I eventually compiled a list of scandals on federal, state, and local levels from a handy if almost certainly incomplete list on Wikipedia. Granted, this list has its limitations. While the scandals seemed to increase exponentially as the country aged, with an avalanche of scandals in the first decade of the 21st century, this is likely due to the use of the Internet as a way to keep an up-to-date record of corruption. The city of Chicago seems to have a disproportionately high number of scandals associated with it, which may mean that its government is extremely corrupt or may mean that someone with an interest in Chicago scandals has done more work updating the list than people with knowledge of local scandals in other cities. There was also some discussion on the site's talk page as to whether people were trying to skew it one way or another to suggest that one party was more corrupt than the other. Given that the Democratic and Republican parties seemed to switch sensibilities around the 1960s, any attempt to tar one or the other as being more corrupt is an exercise in idiocy. Rest assured, both parties will be covered.

Moreover, some of the items aren't necessarily scandals, even if they may be examples of rampant corruption, such as New York's infamous Tammany Hall. All politicians do controversial things, but controversy alone does not a scandal make. For the purposes of this blog, I'll be looking more at individuals affected in such a way that their political image is tarnished: through criminal indictment, offensive statements, bad behavior, or other means. Giving lie to the blog's title, I'll also be looking at politicians who survived scandals, by being acquitted of charges, by remaining politically viable despite a scandal, and so on. While I will likely cover scandals as local as county-level or state legislatures, I likely won't go much further than that. I've worked as a newspaper reporter in a rural area for a little more than a year and a half now, and in that brief time I've covered two criminal matters involving town officials accused of embezzling municipal funds. I imagine such misconduct occurs nationwide on a fairly large scale, and it would be a nightmare to track down all of these incidents over the course of 232 years of history.

I will do my best to thoroughly research each matter, though most of this research will likely be done online given the relative lack of library resources. As I have a full-time job, there may also be a significant amount of time between each blog post, but I will try to keep it updated as often as possible. My father has also expressed interest in doing a few entries, so I may send some names his way. The scandals themselves will appear in random order, so you I may cover an 18th century incident in one post and follow it up with one from the 1990s.

I welcome any suggestions, corrections, and comments, and hope you will enjoy the blog!

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