Jack Abramoff’s little plea deal, which has GOP power brokers all over DC wetting themselves, represents as solid a chance as the Democratic Party has seen in ages (since Watergate?) to claim some moral high ground. But all of a sudden the question isn’t whether they can successfully capitalize on Republican ethical “lapses,” but whether they’ll be able to keep the Republicans from turning the issue to their own advantage.
- so vile he divorced his cancer-stricken wife on her deathbed so he could hook up with the bimbo he’d been adulterating with;
- so ethically challenged that he “was reprimanded and fined $300,000 by the House Ethics Committee”… for using “tax-exempt foundation money to promote Republican goals,” becoming the first Speaker ever to be smacked down in this fashion;
- who was “found to have lied to the committee during the investigation”;
- who bounced 22 checks in the House Banking Scandal…
Yes, that Newt Gingrich has teed up the GOP leadership for failing to control and take responsibility for all the corruption surrounding the lobbying and influence industry in the capital. No, this isn’t a new episode of The Surreal Life.
- issued a statement saying: “Yesterday’s plea arrangement with Jack Abramoff indicates that our system of justice works and those who break the law for personal gain find no favor in Washington”;
- “announced his support for legislation to reform the relationship between lobbyists and members of Congress”;
- and oh, by the way, to avoid any appearance of impropriety, is going to be returning a couple $Ks worth of
bribesdonations that were funneled his way courtesy of Mr. Abramoff.
Hell, just to be safe, Tom DeLay and Roy Blunt (and Durbin, Bond, Cochran, Dole, Enzi, Gregg, Kyl, Santorum, Smith, Sununu, Thomas, and Thune) and even Dubya himself are returning suspicious money left and right (okay, I’m having a hard time sorting out all the numbers, but it looks like Bush is shedding himself of $6,000 of the $100,000 Abramoff sent his way – read the article and let me know if my math is off here).
And everybody is shocked – shocked, I say, and outraged, and demanding that something be done! (Listen, when Newt Gingrich starts calling out your ethics, it’s time to get right with the Lord.) Frist wants to lend the appearance of pursuing legislation. Newt wants to outlaw lobbying in the District (note to speculators – now is a great time to start buying up vacant commercial real estate in Northern Virginia). Vin Weber, a “GOP lobbyist and former House member from Minnesota with close ties to the Bush administration” says that if the Republicans don’t “take fairly dramatic action and reclaim the mantle of reform,” they’re “going to lose the House.”
And so on. If you’re paying attention, you’ll notice that GOP corruption has led to a GOP crisis, and it appears the solution is….wait for it….the same people who brought you the scandal in the first place. (See also, “we’ve had a rash of lynchings lately – maybe the Klan can help.” Or, “somebody’s been killing the chickens – we need to git us a fox.” Or, “I’m tired of being molested by older men in positions of authority – I think I’ll go talk to Father Geoghan.” Hell, I could go on all day….)
But that’s okay, because the loyal opposition party has by god seized on the moment and is:
a) rampaging through the halls of the Capitol calling for heads to roll;
b) meekly asking GOPpers to give back the donations;
c) refusing to give back the money they got from Abramoff;
d) both b and c are correct.
If you guessed b or c, ten points from Hufflepuff; if you guessed a, make it 100 points and be in my office Saturday morning at 9:00 for detention.
In fact: “Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has declined to give back the estimated $60,000 he received.” If you think that’s great, read the rationale:
“Jack Abramoff is a Republican operative and this is a Republican scandal,” said Jim Manley, Reid’s spokesman. “Sen. Reid has done nothing wrong and sees no need to return” the donations linked to Abramoff.
To be fair, most Dems are smart enough to give their money back or donate it to charity, but Reid’s unfathomable stupidity allows us to take our eye off the ball for just a split second, and if the GOP machine has proven anything in the past five years, it’s that it doesn’t require a lot in the way of distraction to execute its highly sophisticated disinformation shell game. (For a complete list of who’s doing what with their Abramoff Bucks, click here, and the list is continued on the next page.)
Instead of reading story after story where the GOP is turning the story of their own corruption into a reason to vote for them, we ought to be reading story after story where the Dem leadership is trampling the Republican Party like a rabid army of jackbooted Dick Cheney clones goosestomping through the pansy patch at some liberal commune’s Earth Day peace party and hemp-quilting bee.
Instead, crickets chirping in the wilderness.
Friends, we haven’t yet invented instruments sophisticated and powerful enough to measure the breathtaking magnitude of Democratic Party ineptitude. It’s hard to imagine, given the reality of where we are politically at this moment, that any Republican would have any chance at all of winning much of anything in the next few years. But the “us, too” party can’t even find a way to capitalize when the other team fumbles on its own one-yard line and then puts in the eighth string defense for the goal-line stand. Seriously, this isn’t even about the game anymore – when you have a scandal of this magnitude and they trot Newt out onto the field, that’s just taunting.
If the Democrats can’t make hay now they’re too dumb to govern. So our choice in the 2006 mid-terms and the 2008 Big Dance will be what it has been all decade: Evil vs. Stupid.
Evil by two touchdowns….