Nasty Letters To Crooked Politicians

As we enter a new era of politics, we hope to see that Obama has the courage to fight the policies that Progressives hate. Will he have the fortitude to turn the economic future of America to help the working man? Or will he turn out to be just a pawn of big money, as he seems to be right now.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Nothing bipartisan here...

Nothing bipartisan about congressional scandal
Gene Lyons
Posted on Wednesday, January 11, 2006

American politics offers few spectacles quite so diverting as the pious hypocrite unmasked. For your entertainment dollar, nothing beats the United States Congress in full scandal mode. Particularly, it must be
said, a Republican Congress. So brazen and nefarious were the schemes of former GOP House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, for example, that it appears “The Hammer” might with more accuracy have been dubbed “The Chisel.” What with GOP super-lobbyist Jack Abramoff having pleaded guilty to five felony counts of conspiracy, fraud and tax evasion, and agreeing to help prosecutors, there’s no telling how many high-fliers he’ll take down with him. Abramoff boasts that he’s got the goods on as many as 60 congressmen and their staffs. He’s probably blowing smoke, but plenty of name-brand Republicans are having trouble sleeping nights.

But God forbid anybody call a spade a spade. In keeping with Republican National Committee talking points, many in the media are loath to call it a partisan scandal. Every TV account I’ve seen, whether on CBS, ABC or CNN, has stressed that voters blame Democrats and Republicans equally for corruption.

GOP editorialists prefer equivocations like “bipartisan tsunami.” The Wall Street Journal editorial page, which published several fat volumes of invective about Whitewater, Bill and Hillary Clinton’s ill-fated real estate investment, which became perhaps the longest shaggydog story in American political history before eventually petering out with no evidence that they did anything wrong, finds itself reduced to philosophical bromides about how “Washington power can corrupt absolutely.”

Democrats who state the obvious are accused of excess partisanship. Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean shocked poor Wolf Blitzer almost speechless during a recent appearance on CNN’s “The Situation Room.”

“Should Democrats who took money from Jack Abramoff, who has now pleaded guilty to bribery charges... give that money to charity or give it back ?” Blitzer wanted to know.

“There are no Democrats who took money from Jack Abramoff,” Dean answered. “Not one, not one single Democrat. Every person named in this scandal is a Republican. Every person under investigation is a
Republican. Every person indicted is a Republican. This is a Republican finance scandal. There is no evidence that Jack Abramoff ever gave any Democrat any money.... I know the Republican National Committee would
like to get the Democrats involved in this. They’re scared. They should be scared. They haven’t told the truth.”

But, but, but, Blitzer sputtered, what about Sen. Byron Dorgan of North Dakota? Indeed, Dorgan did accept legal campaign donations from American Indian tribes that Abramoff represented while privately referring to
their leaders as “morons” and “troglodytes” and swindling them for lobbying services he never performed.

It’s for putting things so bluntly that Dean is often derided as a wild man. In this instance, however, he’s right. See, Abramoff wasn’t just any GOP lobbyist. “Casino Jack,” as he was widely known, was the king of the K Street lobbyists and the principal financier of the “Republican revolution” —an insider’s insider.

The former head of the College Republicans, Abramoff qualified as a “Pioneer” for raising more than $ 100,000 for President Bush’s 2000 campaign. He boasted of his close working relationship with White House political adviser Karl Rove. In 2001, Abramoff’s personal assistant, Susan Ralston, became Rove’s.

Until quite recently, Abramoff and fellow GOP strategist Grover Norquist were giving interviews boasting of their creation of a one-party political machine. With Republicans holding the White House along with both houses of Congress, anybody who wanted anything out of the U. S. government needed to contribute heavily to GOP causes, hire their protégés and drop the Democrats like a bad habit.

If Democrats have any sense, they’ll emphasize two aspects of the scandal, First is the massive betrayal of faith and trust.

“Rarely has the contrast between the rhetoric of the religious right and the behavior of its leaders,” writes my colleague Joe Conason, “been so starkly exposed as in the Abramoff scandal.”

An orthodox Jew, Abramoff missed few chances to pose as a man of God and philanthropist while bribing legislators with casino cash. Former Christian Coalition choirboy Ralph Reed played along, admonishing the faithful in Texas and Louisiana to fight the moral scourge of gambling while helping himself to millions from Mississippi casinos that he was secretly working for. DeLay has rarely missed an opportunity to stress
his personal relationship with God. He’s repeatedly lambasted Democrats for having the “wrong world view.” Meanwhile, his U.S. Family Network was building the nation’s “moral fitness” by taking $ 1 million checks
from Russian oligarchs presumably in return for services rendered. And while this pious cohort has been lining its pockets, taking lobbyist-paid golfing excursions to Scotland, enjoying sumptuous feasts in Malaysia and sightseeing in Moscow, American families have gotten little or no help with issues politicians can actually do something about, such as stagnating wages, vanishing pensions and affordable medical care.

•–––––—Free-lance columnist Gene Lyons is a Little Rock author and recipient of the National Magazine Award.

Lily Tomlin said it best. "No matter how cynical I get, I just can't
keep up."

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