Sunday, January 08, 2006

Bush Administration Worried About Abramoff Scandal

Sounds like the boys and girls at the White House aren't feeling as detached about the Abramoff indictment as they would like you to believe. Here's Mike Allen and Matt Cooper of TIME on the White House's concerns over the Abramoff scandal:

With the possibility that Tom DeLay could be indicted in the Abramoff case, the Administration fears that the scandal could tarnish all Republicans and even hand the House to the Democrats.

"They're worried about the Congress," an adviser said after talking to White House aides, "and they're worried about themselves." Although DeLay's forfeiture of his leadership post makes things easier for the White House, the Abramoff saga will continue to be a problem. Bracing for the worst, Administration officials obtained from the Secret Service a list of all the times Abramoff entered the White House complex, and they scrambled to determine the reason for each visit. Bush aides are also trying to identify all the photos that may exist of the two men together. Abramoff attended Hanukkah and holiday events at the White House, according to an aide who has seen the list. Press secretary Scott McClellan said Abramoff might have attended large gatherings with Bush but added, "The President does not know him, nor does the President recall ever meeting him." Republican officials say they are so worried about the Abramoff problem that they are now inclined to stoke a fight with Democrats over the confirmation of Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court in an effort to turn the page from the lobbying investigation. Outside groups plan to spend heavily, and the White House will engage in some tit for tat with Democrats as the hearings heat up.

But we keep hearing from idiots like Ed Henry at CNN, Tweety Bird Matthews at MSNBC and Gloria Borger of U.S. News and World Report that the Abramoff is a bipartisan scandal tarnishing both sides of Congress. We keep hearing from the press that the public thinks both parties are equally corrupt and both sides equally culpable for the mess in Washington.

Well, when idiots like Ed Henry and Gloria Borger blissfully parrot RNC talking points that the Abramoff scandal is bipartisan, of course most people are going to think both parties are equally corrupt and culpable for the mess in Washington.

But only one party controls the House, the Senate and the White House and only one party has the kind of power lobbyists want to purchase through bribery - and that would be the Republican Party.

As R. Jeffrey Smith and Juliet Eilperin note in today's Washington Post, Tom Delay, along with other powerful conservative figures like Karl Rove and Jack Abramoff, helped to create a GOP political machine that was completely powered by lobbying money and campaign contributions, completely disenfranchised Democrats and was run on the House side by the ruthless Delay:

Standing before a crowd of applauding House Republicans in the Capitol Hill Club last March, then-Majority Leader Tom DeLay (Tex.) inscribed $1.8 million on a giant check and signed his name at the bottom with the flourish of a game show host. The tally, representing funds to be given to the campaigns of 10 Republican lawmakers, was yet another cache collected by one of the premier money machines ever to function on Capitol Hill.

It worked simply. On one side of the machine, a hose vacuumed the pockets of large corporations, wealthy individuals and legions of lobbyists on K Street, all instructed by DeLay to contribute only to Republicans. Out the other side, at some later date, came legislation of interest to many of the donors. Inside the machine, twisting its knobs and pulling its levers, was DeLay -- who was unabashed about his pay-to-play philosophy and relentless in enforcing his political rules.

DeLay's tenure in the congressional leadership, which came to a decisive end with his announcement yesterday that he would not try to regain the leadership post, was marked by an extraordinary record of political accomplishment. From Dec. 6, 1994, until last year, the former pest exterminator from a Houston suburb was the go-to guy in the House for legislative favors, perks, committee chairmanships and election cash.


As President Bush noted recently, when DeLay was in the saddle, the administration's priorities were enacted by the House. Under his prodding, that body became in effect a single-party institution, with negligible Democratic influence in any aspect of its operations, from hearings to appropriations.

But DeLay's leadership was undermined over time by a blurring of ethical lines in the handling of money by his aides and advisers, his taste for the lifestyle of the super-rich, and his take-no-prisoners approach to political disputes in a town built on compromise. A lawmaker who cast himself as an icon of moral conservatism, DeLay came increasingly to be regarded as a symbol of special-interest lawmaking. With an election looming in 11 months, his colleagues began to fear the consequences.

The press knows just how partisan this scandal is. They know nearly all Democrats are in the clear on this scandal because Tom Delay's K Street project disenfranchised any lobbyists who worked with Democrats. Besides which, lobbyists only want to buy power and/or access to it, and clearly the GOP has it while Dems do not.

Nonetheless Ed Henry, Tweety Bird Matthews and Gloria Borger keep spreading the word that Democratic lawmakers are as worried about the Abramoff indictment as the Bob Neys, the Tom Delays and the Conrad Burns are, a disingenuous meme that is simply not true or based in any reality. And of course Henry, Matthews and Borger know this.

You have to wonder what it is Tom Delay or Karl Rove have on some members of the press that makes it so easy for the GOP to get out its talking points through its willing partners in the media.

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