I’ve largely passed on the Abramoff story since Jack’s decision to turn state’s evidence because for now, anyway, nothing is really happening. We’re stuck in the period after the witness has begun to cooperate but before we know where exactly the prosecution is headed. This might be one of the most entertaining games of musical chairs in history, with the White House on the run and the press desperate for excuses to call this scandal ‘bipartisan,’ but that’s all it is.
The political impact, of course, is enormous. People care about this story. The question of corruption resonates enough that Republicans and Democrats have fallen over each other to get out competing proposals to clean up DC, although it turns out that Republicans were just kidding about theirs. Two politicians in particular are looking at the sharp end of the public’s wrath over corruption in DC: Rick Santorum, whose dimming reelection prospects have forced him into an increasingly comical position of denying any knowledge his own K Street Project, and of course Tom DeLay. Not to be unfair to Santorum, I feel obligated to point out, via Carpetbagger, that DeLay also isn’t above denying the obvious.
A letter to Republicans in DeLay’s district, yesterday:
“A final word on Jack Abramoff: the notion that he was a close friend who wielded influence over me is absolutely untrue,” DeLay wrote. “As Whip and Majority Leader, I met with many people who brought issues before Congress and sought support of both Republicans and Democrats.”
DeLay added: “The reality is, Jack Abramoff and I were not close personal friends. I met with him only occasionally, in fact less frequently than numerous others who brought issues before Congress — never did he receive preferential treatment.”
Tom DeLay in 1997:
“When one of my closest and dearest friends, Jack Abramoff, your most able representative in Washington, D.C., invited me to the islands, I wanted to see firsthand the free-market success and the progress and reform you have made,”
Nice try, Tom. You don’t cure gangrene by washing your hands.