Saturday, January 07, 2006

Disappearing Jack Abramoff: Why This Scandal Will Fizzle

Disappearing Jack Abramoff:
Why This Scandal Will Fizzle

PEJ News
- C. L. Cook - Having missed my chance to play New Year's prognosticator, I'll throw my hat in here: My animal entrails tell me, Jack Abramoff, the man at the centre of the Scandale du Jour swirling in Washington will neither spell the end of George W. Bush's corruption plagued administration, nor signal a political sea-change in the way lobbyists ply their trade.

Disappearing Jack Abramoff:
Why This Scandal Will Fizzle
C. L. Cook

PEJ News
January 7, 2006

Further gruesome readings of the guts reveal: This time next week,
a Google of Abramoff's name will return few new entries.

The blogs have been abuzz over Jack Abramoff's plea bargain last week. The erstwhile Washington high-flyer's promise to "co-operate" with investigations into what some have described as the biggest Congressional scandal in more than a century is, for those wishing to see the Republican political apparatus collapse, a beacon pointing the way to George W. Bush's impeachment. As much as I'd like to agree, Abramoff is not the silver bullet so many have hoped for.

Though the Affair d'Abramoff may deserve the epithet of "Congressional Scandal of the Century," the very scope of the case of the man who is to the D.C. lobby industry what Wayne Gretzky was to hockey ensures it will be consigned to the media memory pit; there are simply too many, on both sides of the aisle, implicated.

Besides, when considered in the context of recent scandal: the 2000 election fix; the 9/11 fiasco; Afghanistan; Iraq; Valerie Plame; Guantanamo; Abu Ghraib; and of course the ongoing Katrina; it will take more than a bit of bribery gone too far to scuttle the Bush ship of State.

Expect next week to read of the Justice Department's decision to slow the prosecution of Abramoff, just as has been done in the case of disgraced former media mogul, Conrad Black. The media, adept as it is in celebrating courtroom cases, doesn't well handle the cumbersome complexities of jurisprudence and its often glacial pace. Abramoff will sink from the public's view and consciousness, disappeared in a legal labyrinth too tedious to merit media attention.

And a collective sigh in Washington will go up. None are eager to muddy the waters more; none willing to be the one to kill the goose whose eggs succor all.

The mutual venality and corruption in Washington is the crux of the matter; it's the answer to the continued momentum of the Bush administration, an administration that thunders along, pressing its radical agenda despite myriad transgressions of both law and decency. Moving on, despite being the least supported government in living memory, the woes of Abramoff, and fellow transgressor, Representative Tom DeLay, will do little to slow Team Bush. Today, George Bush would happily take his hero, Richard Nixon's approval ratings at his pre-impeachment nadir, but unlike the benighted Nixon, Bush still has the levers of power firmly in hand.

But the beat goes on...

Matthew Continetti, writing for Murdoch News Corp. British organ, The Weekly Standard, illustrates the rabid scurrying of Democrats, eager to distance themselves from the largesse many of their campaigns enjoyed, courtesy of Mr. Abramoff. In his article, 'The Friends of Jack Abramoff' Continetti quotes Democrat Senate leader, Harry Reid in an interview with News Corp. colleague, Chris Matthews of Fox News, saying; "Abramoff gave me no money. So don't lump me in with Jack Abramoff." Of course, Reid's campaign had received money from Abramoff, though through an arm's length conduit. That's how these things are done.

Jack Abramoff will, in all likelihood come to inhabit a cell somewhere. Facing mail fraud, tax evasion, wire fraud, and the ubiquitous, "conspiracy" charges, he's already looking at a possible 11 years, on condition his "co-operation" is deemed sufficient by Justice. And doubtless, he will not go down alone. But, by the time this case winds its weary way through the judicial system, George W. Bush will be well past his "mandate."

And the democrats will dutiful let this story fall through the cracks. In an election year, the last thing apparatchiks of either party wants is a spotlight shone on the craven criminality endemic to their profession, highlighting the situation in Washington the editors of The New Republic flatly observed, saying; "rule-bending and corruption under this Congress has become pedestrian."

So, the bloody mess of intestines tell me: Business as usual for 2006. Next week: The Disappearing of Tom DeLay.

C. L. Cook
serves as a contributing editor to PEJ News. He also hosts Gorilla Radio, a weekly public affairs program, broad/webcast from the University of Victoria, Canada. You can check out the GR Blog here.

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