For a man who has enjoyed such a short and undistinguished career, Illinois’s Representative Aaron Schock (R.) has sure packed in a lot of corruption. In the last few years alone, Schock has contrived to spend $40,000 of taxpayers’ money redecorating his congressional office in the lavish style of television’s Downton Abbey; he has exhibited a penchant for taxpayer-financed luxury hotels and private aircraft that is flatly incompatible with both his conservative rhetoric and the political presumptions of a free nation; and, per Politico, he has “taken several trips abroad without following disclosure rules.” Politico revealed, moreover, that Schock had charged the American public $3,000 for “software on Nov. 14,” but that the expenditure was in fact “part of the cost of flying in a software executive’s private plane to a Chicago Bears game and his district.”
Let’s say it, aloud: Aaron Schock is a crook.
Tough as it can be to recall in the age of House of Cards, The West Wing, and — yes — the emetically glitz-happy Obama administration, the old saw that Washington, D.C., is “Hollywood for ugly people” is in fact intended as a joke, not as a description. In a republic such as ours, the ideal public servant looks like Calvin Coolidge, not Robert Plant, and he takes his power to extract cash from the people he serves seriously. Erick Erickson, who yesterday called bluntly for Schock’s resignation, contends correctly that Schock has failed at this basic task. Rather, Erickson proposes, Schock has “proven himself incapable of handling his own money, the money of his donors, and taxpayer money.” Worse still, he “has lived excessively off the backs of taxpayers who must be reimbursed and off of donors to whom he is now a servant.”
Erickson is absolutely correct, and, for conservatives, the charge is devastating. There is no virtue at all in the Republican party’s vehemently decrying the largesse and the arrogance of Washington, D.C., if those who are sent to cut the place down to size end up living like Lucrezia Borgia. In recent years, Schock has explained that “exercising humility is important to” him; that he hopes not only to “stand for [his] principles but . . . to work for them”; and that his conservative and Christian upbringing has informed his political outlook. He “didn’t grow up dreaming of being George Washington,” he confirms. Perhaps, though, it would have been better if he had, for there it is no good talking a good game unless you are prepared to live it out, too.
— Charles C. W. Cooke is a staff writer at National Review.