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‘American Hustle’ And The Banality Of Political Corruption

I am looking forward to David O. Russell’s American Hustle, his exploration of the Abscam sting, in which the FBI set up a front called Abdul Enterprises, Ltd. (with the help of a con man) to solicit favors from politicians including sitting Congressmen, in exchange for bribes, if only for the chance to gaze lovingly on Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence’s wigs:

But I can’t help but think that it makes political corruption look a lot…sexier than it actually needs to be. Right now, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell is embroiled in a scandal over a donor who gave his family, including his daughter, high-value cash gifts and a $125,000 loan. It doesn’t seem to have required any particularly fancy set-up for the donor in question to do the obvious, crass thing of giving McDonnell’s daughter of $10,000 in cash as a wedding gift, and it doesn’t seem to have required any particular moral depravity (or the seduction of awesome fake hair) for the McDonnells to accepted the money, just ordinary old greed and self-deception. The scandal isn’t really that astonishing cons succeed, but that people in public life are so stupid and venal in the first place.

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