Friday, January 27, 2006

Wash Post/ABC News poll: 76% Want Bush To Come Clean About Ties To Abramoff

Yikes - more bad news for the preznit, courtesy of the Washington Post:

A strong bipartisan majority of the public believes President Bush should disclose contacts between disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff and White House staff members despite administration assertions that media requests for details about those contacts amount to a "fishing expedition," according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

The survey found that three in four -- 76 percent -- of Americans said Bush should release lists of all meetings between aides and Abramoff; 18 percent disagreed. Two in three Republicans joined with eight in 10 Democrats and political independents in favoring disclosure, according to the poll.

At a news conference Thursday, the president declined to discuss those meetings but said federal investigators are "welcome" to look into them if they suspect wrongdoing. Last week, White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan, asked by reporters to explain Abramoff's contacts with the Bush administration, said, "We're not going to engage in a fishing expedition."

Earlier this month, Abramoff pleaded guilty to felony conspiracy and fraud charges. A plea agreement said Abramoff bribed public officials, including a member of Congress.

Questions about White House contact with Abramoff came as special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald continues an unrelated investigation to determine who leaked the name of an undercover CIA operative to reporters. That investigation has produced charges against I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, the former top aide to Vice President Cheney. Libby is accused of lying to FBI agents and a federal grand jury.

The twin scandals have done little to help the battered public image of the Bush White House and Congress. The new poll found that 56 percent of the public disapproved of the way that Bush is handling ethics in government, up seven percentage points in the past five weeks. An equally large majority says the type of wrongdoing admitted by Abramoff is "widespread" in Washington.

No wonder Karl Rove trotted out the "Dems are weak on national security" meme for the 2006 midterm election campaign.

With 56% of the public disapproving of the way the administration is handling ethics, it is quickly becoming clear that the "culture of corruption" meme the Democrats plan to push in 2006 is going to have legs - especially if more members of the GOP get frogmarched in either the Abramoff scandal or the CIA leak case.

Wouldn't it be better for Bush to come clean now on Abramoff instead of stonewalling for a bunch of months when the story is most likely going to break anyway?

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