WASHINGTON -- I cannot rid from my mind the name Alioto, Judge Samuel Alioto. That is the name of Judge Samuel Alito as pronounced by the delightful Sen. Edward Kennedy, or is it Eduardo Kennedino? No, it is simply Teddy, and he is as entertaining as any U.S. Senator since the days of the soused Southerners, who would tipple their way through the dreamy days on Capitol Hill, rousing themselves for histrionic oratory in the mid-afternoon and then slumping back into their seats, awaiting the late afternoon hour when they would all gather in one or another's chambers for a "restorative" -- then on to dinner.
Teddy, in this health-mad era, is a throwback to the Senate's post-Prohibition 1930s. Anyone who watched him during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on Judge Alioto or Alito or whatever the hell his name is must have gleaned that Teddy had hardly a clue as to what he was doing. His set speeches were written for him by brainy staff members who will soon move on to Washington law firms or lobbying outfits, all becoming polite versions (Democratic versions, that is) of the hellish Abramoff or Abraham Hoff or whatever his name might be. This gluttonous rogue, bursting out of his overcoat as he waddles from court appearances to his waiting car, is a scandalous figure to be sure. Jack Abramoff stands at the end of a long line of such shabby fixers. One of Abramoff's predecessors, whose name was on the tongue of every Washington watcher in the early 1980s, was Tongsun Park of Abscam fame. (That scandal occasioned the expulsion of the first House member since 1861, the Hon. Michael Myers, Democrat from Pennsylvania.) Park has just been indicted for one of the many U.N. scandals. Possibly Abramoff has a future at the United Nations.
Park, Abramoff, they come and go, but the Democratic fixers remain. When they do trip up, the Kultursmog simply ignores their indiscretions. In the 1990s we had an entire presidential administration of fixers, with the chief fixers seated right at the top, Bill and Hillary. Last week Independent Counsel David Barrett (one of seven Independent Counsels from the Clinton years) delivered up his final report detailing the Clinton administration's bullying exertions to fix both an IRS investigation and Independent Counsel Barrett's investigation. As yet, hardly a ripple of interest has troubled the serene waters of this great city. The media for the most part missed the fact that some 120 pages of the report were redacted. In fact, the New York Times was so oblivious that it actually reported that the Barrett Report was the "full report," a judicial panel having, according to the Times, "ordered a full disclosure."