Sen. Alan Cranston says he and his lawyer, Alan Dershowitz, have evidence that several senators did exactly what he was found guilty of -- closely interweaving campaign contributions and official activities. But he won't name names. The smarmy shadow of Sen. Joe McCarthy must be smiling down on his old stomping grounds. McCarthy's declarations in Senate speeches a generation ago that his inquiries had produced evidence of Communists agents in the State Department and elsewhere, whom he would not name, put a new and ugly word in the dictionary, "McCarthyism."
Senator Cranston's behavior in this last (we assume) stage of the so-called Keating Five investigation was unbecoming. His charge that others engage in behavior similar to his own would not be a defense even if he had the backbone to name names and present his so-called evidence. His argument -- if only there were public financing of congressional campaigns, senators would not have to deal with the Charles Keatings of the world -- was pathetic.
What a weak excuse he gave for his actions: since he broke no law and no Senate rule, he should be spared the indignity of being rebuked by the Senate Ethics Committee for "repugnant" behavior. A U.S. senator ought to know that there are "well-established norms of behavior," as the Ethics Committee report put it, that are "commonly understood" by senators. As Ethics Committee Chairman Howell Heflin said of wrongful acts in this area, "senators know it when they see it." Once they see it, they should not do it. Senator Cranston did it and deserved TC rebuke.