Where was Jack Abramoff?
by Jonathan Singer, Tue Jan 31, 2006 at 06:35:24 PM EST
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.