Twilight of the Republicans

It sounds like the Republicans’ woes are just getting started. For all of America’s flaws and warts and sins, it’s good to know that justice can still be blind, and that no one is above the law.

The Justice Department has signaled for the first time in recent weeks that prominent members of Congress could be swept up in the corruption investigation of Jack Abramoff, the former Republican superlobbyist who diverted some of his tens of millions of dollars in fees to provide lavish travel, meals and campaign contributions to the lawmakers whose help he needed most.

The investigation by a federal grand jury, which began more than a year ago, has created alarm on Capitol Hill, especially with the announcement Friday of criminal charges against Michael Scanlon, Mr. Abramoff’s former lobbying partner and a former top House aide to Representative Tom DeLay.
Mr. Abramoff, who is under indictment in a separate bank-fraud case in Florida, has not been charged by the federal grand jury here. But Mr. Scanlon’s lawyer says he has agreed to plead guilty and cooperate in the investigation, suggesting that Mr. Abramoff’s day in court in Washington is only a matter of time.

Scholars who specialize in the history and operations of Congress say that given the brazenness of Mr. Abramoff’s lobbying efforts, as measured by the huge fees he charged clients and the extravagant gifts he showered on friends on Capitol Hill, almost all of them Republicans, the investigation could end up costing several lawmakers their careers, if not their freedom.

The investigation threatens to ensnarl many outside Congress as well, including Interior Department officials and others in the Bush administration who were courted by Mr. Abramoff on behalf of the Indian tribe casinos that were his most lucrative clients.

The inquiry has already reached into the White House; a White House budget official, David H. Safavian, resigned only days before his arrest in September on charges of lying to investigators about his business ties to Mr. Abramoff, a former lobbying partner.

I think this has the potential to be the biggest scandal in Congress in over a century,” said Thomas E. Mann, a Congressional specialist at the Brookings Institution. “I’ve been around Washington for 35 years, watching Congress, and I’ve never seen anything approaching Abramoff for cynicism and chutzpah in proposing quid pro quos to members of Congress.”

Cynicism and chutzpah. That just about sums up the Age of Bush. It’ll be fun watching these shameless criminals get their comeuppance, but the price they’ve extracted from America over the past five years is surely nothing to laugh about: a bankrupted government, the fucking of the middle class, and the most unworthy companies getting all the breaks at the expense of those who follow honest business ethics. Let the cards fall where they may.

The Discussion: 9 Comments

I’ve always said that the Republicans function much better as the minority party, because when they get fully in power, they go nuts. Probably won’t happen again for a generation.

I’m nostalgic for the good old days of gridlock. One of the unsung glories of the Clinton administration was that the contesting parties prevented each other from achieving most of their idiotic plans. Congress stayed locked in battle, and the rest of the country did wonderfully! Wonder if we could get them all to just take a sabbatical for 5-10 years.

November 20, 2005 @ 12:41 pm | Comment

I saw Italia Federici’s testimony on C-SPAN. McCain looked like he was going to leap across the bench and slap her. Thing is, her behavior was very much that of any Washington lobbying hack – here Abramoff is charged, Scanlon is charged and will testify against Abramoff, and McCain has a fistful of emails in her face, yet her attitude was “I was, like, just doing what everybody else in Washington does”. Which is true, but there seemed to be no remorse at all that she was an indispensable part of Abramoff’s schemes. That and her casual contempt for the proceedings showed no respect or even recognition of how seriously the senators questioning her are taking this.

November 20, 2005 @ 1:03 pm | Comment

It’s time for sensible republicans to sack this president. Look how bad he looks in Chinese capital. His call for greater freedom went completely ignored by his host. Why should a regime with growing confidence and $800 billion at hand give in to a president with 35% approval rate, who supports torture at home, on – human rights?

Confident Chinese even launch attack on his top aid with racism and sexism, in China’s blogsphere. One can rightly speculate that they are sanctioned tacitly by the all-knowing, all-powerful CCP government, while a call for democracy will meet a swift censor.

In coverage of Bush’s appearance at a Beijing church, a well-known local reporter has the follow line:

‘I also spotted (Condoleezza) Rice, who didn’t seem as ugly as on TV. Actually (she) looks pretty good. After all, (she is) a black, not an easy job for her to look like that.’

attack on Condi Rice

Note this blog is hosted by a service provider with close government ties.

It’s also quoted by arguably the most renown Chinese journalist in his own blog, here:

Endorsed by another blogger

Barely holding back my indignation, I asked both to retract that part of comment. None has since responded.

November 20, 2005 @ 8:02 pm | Comment

Now all America needs is a credible opposition. The only reason the Republicans are having so many problems within their own ranks is they lack an external enemy worthy of the name.

November 20, 2005 @ 11:13 pm | Comment

Exactly, Niner, but I would say “opponent” rather than enemy. When the R’s are the opposition, they have a useful function, but who’s going to rise from the mass of mediocrities to be worth opposing?

From where I see it, the US’s political bench is very shallow. There are plenty of people who can handle a congressional district, but in these times we’re clearly needing “world leaders”, and we don’t seem to have any, even in training!

November 21, 2005 @ 6:11 am | Comment

Re-elect Al Gore!

Seriously, read his speeches from the last 2 1/2 years. The one he gave 2/03 about Iraq was absolutely dead-on. Prescient, even…

November 21, 2005 @ 10:36 am | Comment

Ooops, I mean Gore’s Sept. 2002 speech…at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco.

November 21, 2005 @ 11:40 am | Comment

Whenever I watch “Rocky Horror” I think of Al Gore as Brad, GW Bush as Dr Frankenfurter, and Bill Clinton (saxophonist) as Eddie….

November 21, 2005 @ 9:32 pm | Comment


November 22, 2005 @ 11:43 am | Comment

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