Can you be kicked out of the government for serving sautéed shad roe?
Prime Minister Samak Sundarave of Thailand has just been ousted by a Thai court for violating the constitution. His crime? Hosting TV cooking shows while in office.
Samak was the host of “Tasting, Grumbling,” and “Touring at 6 a.m.” After becoming premier, he kept doing them for weeks, until finally quitting the shows in response to political outcry.
Samak probably violated Thai law. But I can’t say I’m appalled by the spectacle of someone in the government also holding a legitimate private-sector job. And I don’t think the concept of “appearance of corruption” should be so elastic that it distracts us from recognizing and combating real corruption.
In the U.S., Senator Tom Coburn has been battling the loose and even corrupt spending habits of senatorial colleagues. He has also, as senator, continued working as a doctor delivering babies. Coburn has agreed to collect no pay for his work, but the Senate’s so-called ethics committee wants him to stop. Ridiculous.
I’m no expert on politics in Thailand. Perhaps Samak is verifiably corrupt — for reasons having nothing to do with mixing sauces on television. Opponents have also been gunning for Samak’s cabinet. Perhaps the complaint about his cooking was just a handy way to get rid of him.
But in my book, that’s the wrong way to cook up a scandal.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.