CORRECTION, Jan. 11, 2024: The 22nd Amendment, ratified in 1951, set a limit of two presidential terms. An earlier version of this article was incorrect on that point.
Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey just can’t seem to stop digging his own grave.
Menendez is smack-dab in the middle of an indictment over numerous bribery allegations. Now, he has yet to be proven guilty, but his recent behavior is not helping his public image.
In a Tuesday speech before the Senate, Menendez got choked up while lamenting that “after 50 years of public service, this is not how I wanted to celebrate my Golden Jubilee.”
“After 50 years of public service, this is not how I wanted to celebrate my Golden Jubilee. But I have never violated the public trust. I have been a patriot for and of my country.”
— Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) gets choked up addressing the slew of bribery allegations against him pic.twitter.com/oaP4aqCFPl
— The Recount (@therecount) January 9, 2024
After admitting that he “gets” how the accusations against him can be a “source of concern,” Menendez then said he is “suffering greatly” from those accusations and claimed that he has “never violated the public trust.”
If that’s so, this was really not the best way he could have demonstrated it.
Let’s quickly review the charges against Menendez and see if we can find it in our hearts to muster up a scrap of pity for the career politician.
First of all, this is not the first bribery charge the golden senator has faced. He was indicted in 2015, but after the verdict was hamstrung by a hung jury, the Department of Justice dismissed the charges against him.
In 2018, Menendez won his bid for re-election because of course he did. He even regained his position as the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Again, he has not been found guilty this time around, but the evidence is not reassuring. During a raid of his home in 2022, the FBI found gold bars and gobs of cash stuffed in closets, clothing and a safe.
As the case has progressed, Menendez has been accused of directly interfering in criminal cases in New Jersey, as well as using underhanded tactics to benefit Egypt.
Menendez has denied these charges and refused to step down, despite repeated calls from his fellow Democrats to resign (though he did give up his leadership position on the Foreign Relations Committee — again).
His trial is not set to start until May, according to The Washington Free Beacon, but his actions throughout this process have not done much to salvage his image. This recent outburst will only further sour the public’s opinion of him.
First of all, a “Golden Jubilee”? Really?
Menendez isn’t Queen Elizabeth. A politician spending half a century in office is a problem, one the United States sought to circumvent by setting term limits on the office of president via the 22nd Amendment.
Second of all, the image of a wealthy senator — and one facing bribery charges to boot — crying in public because his 50th year in office isn’t going his way will not evoke pity from citizens struggling to afford groceries.
There’s an old saying from Lord Acton we all remember: “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
Not all politicians are fated to become morally bankrupt hypocrites, but the more time spent in that toxic environment, the more it erodes your moral fortitude, until the temptation to abuse your power becomes irresistible.
That is why the president has term limits, and why our congressmen and senators must answer to the voters every few years.
If the charges against Menendez are true, then he is one of the best illustrations of the plague of lifelong politicians.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.