Where was Jack Abramoff?

After watching President Bush's uninspiring and rather unambitious State of the Union this evening, I was pleased to see Virginia Governor Tim Kaine deliver a more than acceptable Democratic response speech, which touched on a number of failures by the current administration, from the response to Hurricane Katrina to the underfunded No Child Left Behind Act. As good as the speech was, however, Kaine left out two of the most important for the Democrats this year: Jack Abramoff.

Some might say that the Democratic response to the State of the Union is no place for what is largely viewed as a legislative matter. After all, most politicians potentially affected by the probe into Abramoff's shady lobbying activities are Republican Members of Congress, not officials in the executive branch.

But lest anyone forget, a very senior member of the Bush administration -- former chief procurement official David Safavian -- has been indicted on charges connected to his relationship with Abramoff. Just this week, President Bush removed the chief prosecutor in the case against Abramoff (under the cover of promotion to the federal bench), and over the last month, the White House has repeatedly refused to own up to its own relationship with the indicted lobbyist -- or even release photos of Abramoff and the President shaking hands.

By failing to cite the Bush adminstration's ties to Jack Abramoff, the Democrats missed a real opportunity to remind Americans just what Republican governance stands for -- cronyism and corruption. While the exclusion of Abramoff from Kaine's speech does not overshadow the positives of the address, it certainly exemplifies the misguided reluctance of Democratic consultants to take on the Republicans with everything we've got and is somewhat of a disturbing omen for what is to come should these consultants continue their domination of Democratic politics this year.

Tags: Abramoff, Democrats (all tags)

Comments

18 Comments

"..Democrats missed a real opportunity"

This made me laugh/weep.

by Parker Lewis 2006-01-31 08:17PM | 0 recs
You sure that's why?

I would be surprised if we're not allowed to swear here. I guess I haven't noticed either way though.

by Parker Lewis 2006-01-31 08:22PM | 0 recs
Re: Where was Jack Abramoff?

wow Parker...all the comments mysteriously dissapeared?  is this the WaPo blog????

by stay the course 2006-01-31 08:45PM | 0 recs
Re: Where was Jack Abramoff?

relax stay.. tomorrow is a big day at MyDD with the final release of the poll numbers and I am sure the big boys are cleaning up the site in anticipation of a huge number of non-regular visitors.  

Swearing itself is not specifically prohibited, I have seen most of the front pagers indulge on occasion.  I am not sure why your diary was shelved, but dont feel bad.  Matt, himself, had posted a front page diary, a lengthy summary of the party's failure on  Alito, and it too stayed posted for only a few minutes.  I am sure it will be posted shortly, but I suspect Jerome and Chris want a pretty clear field to go through the poll results in the am.

by Winston Smith 2006-01-31 08:55PM | 0 recs
Re: Where was Jack Abramoff?

Thanks for the calm words.

I was only irate because this is the same practice we go ape-shi about.  when redstate or wapo get's rid of posts, oh God, it's the end of the world.

my diary get's deleted---no email no explanation.  i post it again---same thing. and a little warning. no explanation.

i post comments--gone.  post diary as a comment.  gone again.

it's just HYPOCRITICAL that Jerome, Stoller, Chris, or WHOEVER is deleting diaries and comments and then cries foul when other censor.

there is a HUGE credibility gap here. WOW.  I screen captured it all if you want some evidence.

Just because it's 2 AM doesn't mean no one's watching.  this is the same mental attitude of the Bush administration.

I'm sick of it.

by stay the course 2006-01-31 09:00PM | 0 recs
Re: Where was Jack Abramoff?

Dont worry, I read every word, it was kinda funny.  From my perspective, the front page bloggers are very tolerant of strong opposing opinions and even some abusive comments from members.  One thing that does piss off the site moderators is conversations in the comments of front page diaries that ignore the actual diary, so I wouldnt be suprised if these comments also get tossed or hidden.  They like random comments in the open threads or attached to relevant member diaries.  So, what do you think of Kaine not mentioning Abramoff?  

by Winston Smith 2006-01-31 09:11PM | 0 recs
Re: Where was Jack Abramoff?

Kaine did a good job.

But, you know...do you watch the super bowl?  or world series?  or world cup?

everyone watches the MAIN event.  and all of the hype is for the main event.  after the main event is over, people kind of take their ball and go home....

So, the Democratic "response" came AFTER the main event was over.  it felt like the adrenaline was gone.  people had tuned out.

otherwise, Kaine did a good job...but I tuned out for a few minutes to write my SOTU response.

by stay the course 2006-01-31 09:14PM | 0 recs
Re: Where was Jack Abramoff?

Ah yes, with all its rich imagery.  Heheh

by Winston Smith 2006-01-31 09:20PM | 0 recs
Re: Where was Jack Abramoff?

full of imagery.

democrats could have done well with singing the jack abramoff song.  seen the lyrics?

by stay the course 2006-01-31 09:33PM | 0 recs
Re: Where was Jack Abramoff?

No...Howell isn't on MyDD's payroll.

by stay the course 2006-01-31 08:45PM | 0 recs
Re: Where was Jack Abramoff?

After the SOTU, I watched some pundits talk about the upcoming response.  They started by quoting Reagan, who, when asked if he was concerned about who his Democratic follow would be, said that he didnt care who it was, "noone would be watching by then."  They also said that the viewers skewed decidedly to the right.  

With those things in mind, I think Kaine performed pretty well, looking enough anti-Bush to muster Democratic support, and enough good Christian not to put off the GOP masses assembled.  The biggest problem I had is with his start, introducing himself as a former missionary.  I have worked with non-religious NGO's in the third world, and those missionary people always pissed me off, for reasons to expansive to describe here.  

Should Kaine have opened an attack on Bush over Abramoff?  I would have liked it.  I dont necessarily criticize him for not.  I would have liked to see some more concrete alternative plans addressing bushco's various failures though.  I think that was the best place to say.. "here is where Bush failed and here is what we will do to make things better" in very concrete terms.

Not to be petty, but his one raised eyebrow did kinda put me off, like he was trying to sell me a used car.    

by Winston Smith 2006-01-31 09:37PM | 0 recs
Re: Where was Jack Abramoff?

You're criticizing Kaine for ignoring Abramoff but you left out the biggest link between him and the WH: Susan Ralston.  The best part about Ralston is that bringing up her relationships with Karl Rove and Abramoff lets the Dems put the media spotlight back on Rove, a truly unappealing character.

by space 2006-01-31 11:48PM | 0 recs
Re: Where was Jack Abramoff?

For reasons known only to them and speculated about by politicos, Democrats have almost uniformly handled Little Boots with kid gloves and allowed him -- like a child tyrant, to dominate the national agenda.

by Dartanyon 2006-02-01 03:12AM | 0 recs
Re: Where was Jack Abramoff?
Correction:
You state that "...most politicians potentially affected by the probe into Abramoff's shady lobbying activities are Republican..." This is incorrect! Not one, not a single solitary Democrat received money from Abramoff. Therefore, ALL were Republican. If the RNC spinsters have been able to confuse even you  then we have a great deal to worry about in terms of bringing this topic up. We should at least start by getting it accurate here.
by anijoni 2006-02-01 04:33AM | 0 recs
Re: Where was Jack Abramoff?

I disagree.  The SOTU response was the place for the high road.  Lots of Christians show up at church only at Christmas and Easter; lots of citizens pay attention to politics only at SOTU and Election Day.  We want to draw them in.  Once they're paying attention, they'll be outraged.  If we'd turned the Democratic response into a knife fight, we'd just be reinforcing their prejudices and they'd turn off the TV, and politics, until Halloween.

by drlimerick 2006-02-01 06:29AM | 0 recs
Re: Where was Jack Abramoff?

You really think it's mostly a Congressional Scandal?

Look, the big story behind Abramoff is his relationship with Italia Federici, Steven Grilles, and Gale Norton, and their take-over of the BIA.  And not just to help a few gaming tribes - remember, Abramoff dismissed his tribal clients as morons.  The front-burner issue in the Interior Department during this Administration has been the foot-dragging, subverting and outright sabotaging of the largest class action case in US history, Cobell v. Norton.  Norton was even slapped with a Contempt charge by Judge Royce Lamberth. Sec. Babbitt was also charged with contempt, but the plaintiffs in Cobell assert that while Clinton's people were just incompetent and trying to drag out the clock so they could hand off the problem, Norton is downright hostile to settling the case and willing to use extreme measures to subvert the court ordered judgement.

Why?  Norton is of the James Watts school (she entered the Reagan Administration to work for him) and her entire career has been to forward the interests of oil and gas, mining and forestry industries.  And in the West, that means easy access to cheap federal land leases, hundreds of millions of acres of land rich with natural resources.

A large chunk of those federal lands are Indian Trust Fund lands, taken into trust in the late 1800s via the Dawes Act, and leased out to industries, ranchers and farmers at cut rate prices.  The money was then to be managed by Interior and paid out to native landowners.  Of course, that didn't happen - hence Cobell v. Norton.

The courts have ordered a full accounting of the Trust.  Problem is, many of the documents were destroyed, including a slew of them under Norton.  So the plaintiffs decided a few years back that the only way to get a real accounting is to audit the industries' books.  That's what makes everyone so nervous, as plaintiff experts, having done some sampling, estimate we're talking over $100 billion in underpayments and interest.  Yes, $100 BILLION.

So Norton did what she could to subvert the case, but as the heat was turned up, she started pushing for Congressional Republicans to take the case and force a settlement.  A settlement for a fraction of the potential amount, but one which would prevent an audit of industry accounts.  Who is the chief supporter of a Congressional settlement?  None other than the puppet of the oil, gas and mining industry, Richard Pombo.

This is where Abramoff comes in.  He was the slush fund operator.  Indians thought they were paying Pombo et al for help with gaming issues, and Abramoff was in fact padding coffers necessary protect the industry from auditing.

Think this is all too far-fetched?  Just last week, the NYTimes posted an article on three months of research into federal land leases (including Indian trust lands) and found rampant fraud and underpayment.  In addition, numerous whistleblowers were fired, including Norton and Grilles trustee for the BIA, who refused to testify before Congress that the Trust was fine.

I've been writing on this for weeks, but since it has to do with non-gaming Indians, most people aren't interested.  But the pieces are falling together fast, and it ain't pretty.  And it goes way deeper than just a few Congressmen.  Steven Grilles was/is a lobbyist for oil/gas/mining interests, and is now in partnership with Lundquist, architect of Cheney's secret Energy Task Force.

by MBW 2006-02-01 07:29AM | 0 recs
Re: Where was Jack Abramoff?

While we're asking questions, where was/is the MyDD poll you've been teasing for a week?

by DFLer 2006-02-01 11:28AM | 0 recs
Tim Kaine

can someone please explain to me why Tim Kaine was chosen to speak after the state of the union?  whether or not he is an up and coming democrat...his stance on the gay marriage ban in his state is not something the democratic party should stand for.  putting him in the front of the country is saying that democrats stand with him.  Furthermore,the way i see it was also a beginning plug of Virginia and Warner's nomination, which I believe is a mistake. thoughts?

by jeremythensaid 2006-02-01 01:34PM | 0 recs

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