AllRefer Encyclopedia - Bob Dole (U.S. History, Biographies) - Encyclopedia

Honor & Nonfeasance:

If you appoint somebody to repair your roads, and pay them the monies promised, and then they don't bother to show up and do it, you've got a situation called "nonfeasance." If some small-town official doesn't perform the duties they've been elected or appointed to perform, but takes the money, they're subject to penalties under the law.

But what of a high official, say, a Senator? The Senate requires both more and less, as it turns out. For the man of honor, it demands more. A Senator takes a Federal oath of office:

I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.
All Senators are entitled to be called "Honorable." Alas, not all of them live up to the honorific, or to the honor of their office or their oath. Some do:
In June, 1996, Dole resigned from the Senate in order to devote more time to the presidential race[.]
Some, alas, do not:
Presidential hopeful John F. Kerry [related, bio] has been a virtual no-show in the U.S. Senate over the past 14 months, but he hasn't missed a paycheck, even though a dusty federal law says some of his $158,000 salary should have been withheld.

During his run for the presidency, Kerry has missed every one of the 22 roll call votes in the Senate this year and was absent for 292, or 64 percent of the roll call votes last year, according to a Herald review of Senate records.

That means the Massachusetts senator has been away from his post in the Senate chamber for at least 128 days over the past 14 months.

Kerry is not the only political truant. U.S. Sen. John Edwards [related, bio] (D-N.C.), the runner-up behind Kerry in the hunt for the Democratic nomination, has also missed every roll call this year and skipped 178, or 39 percent of the votes last year.

Kerry, when the assets of his wife are included, is one of the wealthiest members of the Senate with a reported net worth somewhere between $198 million and $838 million.

The first duty of a Senator is to represent their constituents. That is the most important of the duties of office that they swear faithfully to discharge. We cannot be there in the Senate, hearing the testimonies and voting on the laws. We entrust that to Senators. We trust them to keep their oath of honor.

When they do not, there is a penalty.

However, he and the other AWOL candidates have been spared the automatic paycuts called for in a long-ignored federal law passed in the 1850s.

Section 39 of the United States Code Service requires the Secretary of the Senate and the Chief Administrative Officer of the House to deduct daily pay from members for each day they are absent.

The only legal excuse is if the senator or representative, or one of their family members, is ill, the law states.

Or at least, the law says there is a penalty. In fact, there is none: the Secretary of the Senate has apparently never enforced this federal law, and the current one is citing that as a good reason to carry on not enforcing it.

This is no surprise. The lesson we ought to have learned by now is this: no law can restrain the honorless. No one who will not be restrained by his oath of office is fit to sit in the Senate, nor any judgeship, nor any other position of authority. We have seen that the law cannot restrain the powerful if their word will not restrain them.

No comments: