There seems to be a new and shocking revelation each day from the Senate spending scandal, whether it's about Prime Minister Stephen Harper, his office and staff, or Senators Mike Duffy, Pamela Wallin, Patrick Brazeau and Mac Harb.
What's really shocking about it, however, isn't the improper spending on travel or housing or the criminal charges or the payments made by senior Conservative party officials or the Prime Minster's former chief of staff. No, the shock is that it's just not that shocking.
Despite the breathless reporting from all media outlets of the salacious details coming out of the scandal and the prominence it's receiving on radio, TV and in newspapers, it's simply not coffee shop talk. For people who only pay attention to politics at election time, this is turn-the-page, switch-the-channel, who-gives-a-fat-fiddler's-fart journalism at its finest.
Political and news junkies are loving every minute of it, of course, and are drooling in anticipation of every fresh detail, no matter how minute. The individuals who consume politics are no better than rabid sports fans, although they indignantly insist their sport is about democracy and issues and what's important.
Unless Harper uses this kerfuffle to introduce sweeping changes to the Senate and the provinces endorse the constitutional changes required to make those changes, this scandal will be a historical footnote at best a few short years from now.
The reason this story hasn't caught on with the majority of Canadians is because it doesn't even meet the first rule of news - is it new?
Take away the names and the details and the story that's left behind is "powerful people behaving badly." Happens all the time and some times they are caught and punished, legally and/or in the court of public opinion.
Even if Wallin avoids an unpaid suspension from the Senate, her career is in ruins. She has been dropped by the companies who paid her well to sit on their board of directors and she has been ostracized in both the political and business arenas. It's no better for Duffy. Both of them built journalistic careers on the foundation of trust and integrity. The extent of their indiscretions is irrelevant because it's been enough to put their personal and professional reputations in doubt.
Game over. The rest are just details, analyzed to no end in newspaper columns and editorials and on programs like The House and Power and Politics that bear a shocking similarity to hockey panels on TSN and Sportsnet.
The story that hasn't been told by the national media and the Ottawa press corps is the conflict of interest many of the reporters and editors working on the Senate scandal story likely have with Duffy and Wallin. This is a small fraternity so the reality is that many of them either worked with one or both of them and/or knew them socially and called them friends. Some of those journalists probably maintained close relationships with Duffy and Wallin even after they were appointed senators because they might be valuable sources within the Conservative caucus and/or to score a nice lunch in the Parliamentary dining room once in a while.
Political and journalistic cynicism aside, the Senate spending scandal is a news story, not because of the personalities involved but because of the improper spending of taxpayer dollars and the abuse of the office these public servants hold.
The problem is the people with the authority to punish those at fault are public servants themselves.
So forget Duffy, Wallin, et al. The real problem with the Senate is the same it's always been - public servants who are in not in any way accountable to the public. With no real obligation to actually serve their fellow Canadians, is it any wonder they simply help themselves?