You can just feel the media's euphoria over lobbyist Jack Abramoff pleading guilty to fleecing clients and throwing goodies at legislators. Overnight, Rush Limbaugh could play an audio montage of various anchors and pundits proclaiming it was the biggest scandal to hit Washington in decades. Everywhere you turned, it was "huge," of "historic proportions." Washington Post media writer Howard Kurtz called it "potentially delicious." The joy was reminiscent of old Post editor Ben Bradlee's line about Iran-Contra: "We haven't had this much fun since Watergate."
This scandal is big -- no questions about that. But by what measure is this story so huge and historic? How does it compare to the House Bank scandal of 1992, which resulted in a number of congressional careers ended? How does Abramoff compare to the related mess at the House Post Office, which led to the eventual conviction of House Ways and Means chairman Dan Rostenkowski?
There was no glee in the newsrooms then, when it was Democrats.
When Speaker Jim Wright was forced out in 1989 for dozens upon dozens of ethical violations? "Mindless cannibalism," Wright called it, and they agreed. When Majority Whip Tony Coelho scooted away behind Wright, the media mourned America's loss.
How does Casino-gate, or whatever we're going to call this one, compare to the Asian fundraising scandal of 1996? No one mentioned that, either. Investor's Business Daily published a very informative graphic showing that 22 foreign figures and Democrat activists plugging away for Clinton-Gore and Democratic candidates were convicted by the federal probe of that scandal. (And that figure does not include the people that fled the country rather than testify.) How is the Abramoff plea already bigger than that?
As expected, Democrats and their gaggle of supportive bloggers are claiming it's outrageous for anyone to suggest that Jack Abramoff could be connected to Democrats. They argue that because Abramoff was Republican and the majority of his funding went to Republicans, the discussion should end there. After all, the GOP is the Party of Corruption, is it not?
The very idea that Howard Dean & Co. think they can suggest to the public that it is Republicans who represent a "culture of corruption," and not the party of the Clintons, Rosty, and Wright, is an exercise in self-delusion -- or outright fabrication.