Archive for Thursday, December 20, 2007

Victory seems to have sewed seeds of Morrison’s end

December 20, 2007

Paul Morrison's resignation last week as Kansas Attorney General in the shadow of a scandal was the conclusion of a political feud with enough twists and turns for a John Grisham novel.

The resignation came after Morrison admitted to a long affair with his administrative assistant while district attorney in Johnson County. But as harmful and unprofessional as that indiscretion was, that wasn't his undoing.

What ended Morrison's career were the allegations of his former mistress of sexual harassment and an attempt to recruit her in his continuing war against political opponent Phill Kline, a man he had just easily beaten in a statewide race for attorney general and who - in a strange political twist - succeeded him as Johnson County District Attorney.

Last year when Kline's supporters appointed him as Johnson County District Attorney to succeed Morrison, they could not have imagined how well that appointment would serve them. The day before the resignation, Kline received funding from the Johnson County Commission to name a special prosecutor to investigate wrongdoing in the district attorney's office.

But that was only a push for the crisis Morrison created for himself. The allegations that were so harmful to Morrison suggest that rather than finding comfort in a resounding victory of 13 months ago, he allowed the continued pursuit of the rivalry to destroy him.

It's not the first time in American life a politician was undone while flush with victory. Richard Nixon was setting the course to his own exile into disgrace when he took actions against his "enemies" while conducting a campaign that would give him a landslide re-election victory as president.

Morrison's political opponents hope to use scandal to their advantage. That is to be expected. The zeal with which the move was embraced was illustrated by the Republican Party chairman sending out press releases proclaiming Morrison's resignation 15 minutes before it was delivered at a Topeka podium.

It would be hoped the alleged details of Morrison's end would teach politicians it is sometimes best to accept victory with grace.


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