The Abramoff Post
I'll probably only have one post on the indictment of lobbyist/Nazi from Raiders of the Lost Ark, Jack Abramoff, because I don't really care about the story. Not because fraud by a lobbyist buying off elected representatives isn't a big deal -- it is -- but because the guy has already made a plea agreement, and he's going to the slammer for what he did. So, everything worked out in the end. As an added bonus, he's probably going to name some names in Washington (bribery is a two-way street, you see), and I like to see corrupt politicians get called out on their perfidy. And for the record, yes that applies regardless of political party.
The reason I'm writing about Abramoff at all is because my senior Senator, the honorable Harry Reid, needs to get called out on -- well, not his perfidy, but his general douche-baggery. And he's keeping me really busy these days.
From today's Review-Journal, Reid and John Ensign (R) both denied they were worried about the Abramoff affair. After all, it's not like either of them had any ties to the now convicted felon, right? Well, other than Ensign, to the tune of $16,293. And other than Reid, to the tune of $61,000.00.
"Reid said at a news conference in Carson City that he has 'not a thing' to be worried about as far as Abramoff. 'I've never been in the same room with the man as far as I know,' he said."
Fair enough, but of course you don't have to be in the same room as the guy to cash a check for $5000.00 from him:
"Reid, a Democrat, and Ensign, a Republican, were linked to the lobbyist in a news report in November that focused on a letter they wrote on March 5, 2002, to Interior Secretary Gale Norton.
The Nevadans urged Norton to reject an application from the Jena Band of Choctaw Indians, which was seeking to open a casino outside its Louisiana reservation.
An Abramoff client fighting the Jena casino, the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana, donated $5,000 to Reid's political action committee, the Searchlight Leadership Fund, the next day, according to The Associated Press report."
Now, a few words on what this story is not, and on what it is. First, the check came not from Abramoff, but from an Indian tribe. I'm willing to take the Senator at his word that he's never met Abramoff, and even that he didn't know the money was at all related to possibly illicit activity. I'm willing to grant him this, even though Abramoff's client mailed him $5000.00 the day after he wrote a letter advancing Abramoff's client's interests. I'm willing to grant that the $61,000.00, all of which came from, according to the story, "donors with links to Abramoff," was still legitimate. The reason for my magnanimity in this respect is that a major K Street player like Abramoff makes it his business to have as many "links" as possible. That's the nature of lobbying -- make the contacts, make the deals. I imagine every politician in America can be linked -- Six Degrees of Separation-like -- to Abramoff or other disreputable characters. It's simply impractical to expect otherwise, given the nature of the beast.
All that said, Reid has and will continue to mount attacks on Republicans on similar or even more flimsy grounds. He has railed extensively about the Scooter Libby indictment, even going so far as to demand the President promise not to pardon him should he be convicted. He never explains why Bush should do such a thing, or why Libby's actions ("leaking" the name of a CIA desk jockey in order to refute a man who used CIA contacts to lie to America and damage a sitting President in a time of war) indicate a "culture of corruption."
That said, imagine if Reid had no connections to Abramoff, tenuous or otherwise. Now imagine that Reid heard that the top Senate Republican had accepted a check for $5,000.00 the day after endorsing a position advocated by Abramoff and his clients. Is it possible that Reid might ask Americans to connect the dots, as it were, and excoriate said hypothetical Senator with all manner of execrations?
Knowing my senior Senator, I'm gonna have to say yes, that's possible.