I read rightie blogs so you don’t have to … to their writers’ credit, the majority of rightie blog posts I skimmed through this morning acknowledged that what Abramoff and associates did was very, very bad, and that Washington politicians had better clean up their act. To their discredit, they are to a blogger clinging to the fiction that this is a bipartisan scandal (example).
It ain’t. Although it is possible a few Dems will be caught in the indictment net, the fact is that the Abramoff operation was a GOP operation. Jack is their boy.
Jack Abramoff represented the most flamboyant and extreme example of a brand of influence trading that flourished after the Republican takeover of the House of Representatives 11 years ago. Now, some GOP strategists fear that the fallout from his case could affect the party’s efforts to keep control in the November midterm elections.
Abramoff was among the lobbyists most closely associated with the K Street Project, which was initiated by his friend Tom DeLay (R-Tex.), now the former House majority leader, once the GOP vaulted to power. It was an aggressive program designed to force corporations and trade associations to hire more GOP-connected lobbyists in what at times became an almost seamless relationship between Capitol Hill lawmakers and some firms that sought to influence them.
A few paragraphs down, Birnbaum and Balz add,
With an eye on November’s elections, Republicans have sought to limit the damage to themselves by portraying the scandal as bipartisan, describing Abramoff as an equal-opportunity dispenser of campaign cash and largess.
So far, the public has not identified corruption as solely a Republican problem. A Washington Post-ABC News poll in November asked Americans whether they thought Democrats or Republicans were better on ethical matters; 16 percent said Democrats, 12 percent said Republicans, and 71 percent said there was not much difference between the parties.
But Republicans worry about two possibilities. The first is that Abramoff, known for his close ties to DeLay, mostly implicates Republicans as a result of his plea agreement. That could shift public attitudes sharply against the GOP. “People are uneasy about what else is out there,” said one GOP strategist who requested anonymity to speak more candidly about the possible political fallout.
This strategy is working well so far, as Digby notes. Most of the media dutifully is reporting the scandal as bipartisan. Dat ol’ libruhl bias strikes again. “The press is surely under tremendous pressure from the Republicans to report this as a bi-partisan scandal and they are already buckling under,” says Digby. “But that doesn’t change the fact that this is a GOP operation from the get — and they know it.” But you know if journalists start reporting facts, the rightie hoardes will swarm upon them and devour them, Ã la Dan Rather and Eason Jordan. If you don’t have the truth on your side, sheer nastiness will do. In fact, nastiness trumps truth most of the time these days.
And the circle of corruption extends beyond Abramoff. James Wolcott has a lovely time poking fun at Chris Matthews’s smarmy commentary on Abramoff on yesterday’s Hardball:
His performance this afternoon after the announcement of the Jack Abramoff plea was a power-bottom tour de force. He gave the Republican establishment a complete pass. He insisted against all evidence under heaven and stars that this was not a partisan scandal, that 99% of elected officials were honest and upright, that “Duke” Cunningham was sort of a lone wolf, and that Abramoff was a Vautrin-like villain and corrupter of souls.
But there are ties between Abramoff and Matthews, says John Aravosis. Tweety helped Abramoff raise money for one of his phony charities. Funny; I don’t believe Tweety mentioned that on yesterday’s show.
Jane Hamsher found another cause for concern. Alice Fisher, the assistant attorney general in charge of the corruption investigation, is a career Republican, a former lobbyist for the Frist (as in Bill) family healthcare company, and she has ties to Tom DeLay’s defense team. If she had an ethical bone in her body she would have recused herself. She didn’t. So much for a fair investigation.
Be sure to read Juan Cole’s “Abramoff and al-Arian: Lobbyist’s ‘Charity’ a Front for Terrorism.” Here are details you aren’t likely to see on Faux Nooz. Probably not anywhere else, either. Roger Ailes the Good also surveys rightie sites. Think Progress’s “The House That Jack Built” is a vital resource for understanding the scandal. For a quickie rundown on some major players, see John Dickerson, “Jack Attack,” at Slate.