The Keating Five hearings are an education in how our senators serve their constituents. Some members of the Senate argue that there is nothing wrong with doing favors for people and/or accepting political contributions, providing that the two don't conflict.
The thrust of Sen. Daniel Inouye's testimony was that's how the game is played.
Maybe so. Recently, I had had it up to here with the junk phone calls that were polluting my home. So I decided to call Sen. Twopockets to ask if he was planning any laws that might demand the death penalty for those who claimed to be taking a survey, or those who were selling a piece of swampland in Florida.
I didn't get Sen. Twopockets but rather an assistant who dealt with nuisance calls, such as mine.
He was quite friendly. "The senator is aware of junk telephone calls," he said. "Did you know that he's holding a $1,000-a-plate dinner to celebrate his wife's birthday in February?"
"No, I didn't. Why tell me?"
"It would be a great opportunity for you to meet the senator."
I said, "Do you think that Twopockets would speak to me about junk calls for a lousy $1,000?"
"Oh, no, but an extra thousand entitles you to attend the VIP party in the Presidential Suite."
"What would it cost for him to hear my story and start some hearings on the junk calls that are driving everyone crazy?"
"We're having a January white sale on domestic legislation," the man said. "For $10,000, the senator will personally indicate his interest in the matter, which should create a firestorm in the Senate."
"I don't suppose that the senator would do anything about junk calls if I didn't buy a plate for his wife's birthday."
"I'm sorry, I can't hear you."
"Look, I know that you need money, but when is a little guy ever going to have his story heard if the big guys are buying all the senator's time?"
"You sound like a chronic complainer."
"I'm not an agitator. All I am trying to do is get Senator Twopockets to find out if junk calls fall under the heading of 'invasion of privacy.' "
"The senator has already looked into it and is certain that no laws are being violated."
"How can he be so sure?"
"He read a report by Direct Marketing, the people responsible for making all the calls."
"Did Direct Marketing buy any tables to the senator's wife's birthday?"
"Forty, but that's none of your business."
"Is there any chance that I can talk to the senator personally?"
"Are you trying to gain access to him without paying for it?"
"Doesn't Twopockets have a few free meetings with his constituents?"
"We'd love to be able to, but time is money and we have an election coming up. The senator's advice is do what everyone in this country does -- consider a junk call as a message from a loved one you never met."
"One more question. Where does the senator stand on Charles Keating?"
"The senator didn't approve of everything he did, but he certainly had nothing against Keating's generosity."