Corrupt lobbyist Jack Abramoff may be the biggest piece of the puzzle, but there are scores of others that, once pieced together, form an almost cartoonish picture of extreme greed and corruption.
Start with the characters, a surreal hodgepodge of caricature, including: el capo Abramoff, the gangster in too-tight overcoat and fedora striding from the courthouse, grim-faced and missing only a cigarette dangling from his lips; a variety of politicians and K Street lobbyists, all looking like they just remembered they left a porn site up on their mother-in-law’s computer; and, not to leave anyone out, Indians — that most sacred of all American victim groups.
Oh, wait, and the Christian activist, Ralph Reed, who worked with Abramoff to get an Indian casino shut down in El Paso, Texas, after which Abramoff convinced the same tribe to pay him to get it reopened.
No fiction writer could improve on that story line: Washington and the Christians shaft the Indians … again.
All we need to make the picture complete is a stripper named Fanny. Ah, well, the night is young. Meanwhile, we have about 20 congressmen “lawyering-up,” as they say, following Abramoff’s guilty plea bargain earlier this week, while Republicans are giving back Abramoff money faster than you can say, “Jack Who?”
You mean he was a skunk? Who knew?
Cynics will say — and some Republicans already are saying — oh, well, so it goes. Politics as usual. Everybody does it. Indeed, the National Republican Senatorial Committee said Wednesday that almost all Senate Democrats have accepted money from Abramoff or his associates.
Sean Spicer, spokesman for the House Republican Conference, told The Washington Times, “This is something that has ensnared both parties.”
And the National Republican Senatorial Committee has put out the word that 39 of the Senate’s 44 Democrats — as well as “independent” James M. Jeffords of Vermont — have taken money from Abramoff, either directly or indirectly.
The strategy seems to be that by widely distributing “blame” across party lines, everyone’s equally duped and, therefore, equally not-to-be-blamed. Dumb ol’ Republicans; dumb ol’ Democrats.