However, the best way to gauge the current state of congressional ethics is not the behavior of individual members, but whether their colleagues are willing to tolerate that misbehavior. The Rangel and Waters cases offer evidence of a system that is working and of a House that is far more willing than in the past to police its own.
This is very important, especially considering the Hastert-DeLay-Republican behavior in the past. At the very least, to play politics with this thing would require Democratic foot-dragging until after November's election.
Instead, the Ethics Committee forged on with their investigations while the Democratic leadership made moves that were politically risky, against two powerful congressional office-holders with serious clout; office holders who raise considerable money for the reelection of their more electorally vulnerable Party members.
And yet, the word from right-wing radio, broadcast and internet is that these very investigations serve as proof that Peloi lets this Congress get away with just as much as Hastert & DeLay did.
Maybe that's why the last GOP congresses were so bad. If no one sees the ethical violations, they didn't happen!
Maybe one of our problems in this country is that too many people don't understand that enforcing the rules requires process and investigation, not over-politicization and knee-jerk reaction. Especially if you're going after some of the most well-entrenched, highest-profile folks.