Between the revelations about Bush's ties to drug discount card managers and the Pentagon finding Halliburton overcharging for oil, the brazenly loose ethics of the administration are getting a full public workout.

Is this fair game in the reelection campaign? Most Bush criticism has avoided the rampant quid pro quo, instead focusing on the administration's intelligence deceptions or just plain incompetence. Newspapers have done a fair job of reporting on these stories--at least Halliburton is a household name. But none of them have evolved into true scandals.

Part of this may be that we've just gotten use to different ethical 'benchmarks' in the last few years. It's a little hard to keep track of all the shady dealings in Washington these days. In fact, that's pretty much implicit in the word 'deal' now. So it has to be really egregious before, you know, we'd really ask the president to explain himself. God forbid.

But these are not cheap scandals. They are essential to understanding how the current president makes our policy. And there is a neverending backlog to draw on, fairly well documented by the press and ultimately inexcusable. No Democratic nominee should think they can't do a little public education from time to time. The nominee has to avoid getting in to a pure war on the issues, because Bush will say absolutely anything and he'll be seen as having more credibility. The untold story of the last three years, and I mean details, are going to be critical to the war for public opinion in this election.


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