Former Rep. William Jefferson’s bribery and corruption conviction is “a big tragedy for the New Orleans Democrat,” said The Baton Rouge Advocate in an editorial, “but it’s an even bigger tragedy for Louisiana.” Jefferson became a “national punch line” four years ago when FBI agents found $90,000 in cash his freezer; now he’s also a “stain on the image” of a state already suffering under a reputation for corruption.
The bills in the freezer may have “spawned a thousand jokes about cold cash, frozen assets, and the like,” said Stephanie Grace in the New Orleans Times-Picayune. But the “great irony” is that while the $90,000, and his unshakable nickname, “Dollar Bill” Jefferson, were indirectly responsible for his guilty verdict, he was actually acquitted of the charge related to the freezer cash.
Thank goodness the jury convicted him on 11 other counts, said Marc Moore in PoliGazette. Jefferson was one of the most “baldly corrupt politicians of the decade,” and an acquittal would have undermined our already “shaky faith” in the U.S. justice system. This was a much-needed reminder that the powerful can’t “do as they please.”
There’s still something “tragic” in the fall of Louisiana’s first black congressman since Reconstruction, said Matthew Cooper in The Atlantic. People in his longtime Democratic New Orleans district were really excited about the election of a black, Harvard-trained lawyer in 1991. And if there’s a “hopeful sign” in this mess, it’s that those same constituents voted him out for a Republican, Joseph Cao, now the first Vietnamese member of Congress.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Why you should stop believing in evolution
- Why China thinks it could defeat the U.S. in battle
- 10 things you need to know today: August 20, 2014
- The secret to handling pressure like astronauts, Navy SEALs, and samurai
- What the 'death of the library' means for the future of books
- What you need to know before you support the police in Ferguson
- Why your employer should clean your house and do your laundry
- The real lesson of Rick Perry's mug shot
- Welcome to the age of ambivalent feminism
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
Subscribe to the Week