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January 04, 2006

The Abramoff Deal

The Abramoff plea deal has obviously rocked Washington, and rightly so. This particular scandal, while it may catch members of both parties, will most likely tilt heavily Republican due to Abramoff's affiliation.

I say "good".

I won't be surprised to find more Republican names than Democrat ones, as the Republicans are the party in power now, and that power corrupts, as all power tends to do. I'd be very happy to see a house-cleaning of the majority party. We need that as a country. What I think we'll see are Congressfolk who are heavily entrenched in the system who thought they were untouchable. With Washington awash in so much money, the lure of it becomes, I imagine, greater than many can handle. These people need to be exposed and removed. I don't want to be passing sentence before the facts are in, but when they do come in, I would like to see the guilty do the right thing and step down rather than put us through a bunch of trials.

This scandal, while it may involve more Republicans than Democrats, actually buttresses a point small-government Republicans have been trying to make for years; government is too big. There's too much money flying around and much of it can disappear without a trace, sometimes into the pockets of politicians, and they'll do things they would not otherwise do to get it. The more a government does, the more we invite this sort of corruption. Those wishing to centralize more and more of our country's operation, and wishing to give it more and more to do, would do well to understand that this very scandal is, in a large part, a result of that. While this particular scandal will, again, likely expose mostly Republicans, I think the problem is not one of party but of human nature. The Founding Fathers understood this and created a decentralized republic; united states.

"...[T]he States can best govern our home concerns and the general government our foreign ones. I wish, therefore ... never to see all offices transferred to Washington, where, further withdrawn from the eyes of the people, they may more secretly be bought and sold at market." --Thomas Jefferson

Keep those who govern us in your prayers for this reason, and for a million other ones.

UPDATE: Peggy Noonan expounds further on the connection between the Abramoff scandal and big government in "The Steamroller".

Posted by Doug at January 4, 2006 09:21 AM

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Thank you for some honesty and integrity. I say, "good," too.

Posted by: Dan Trabue at January 4, 2006 11:01 AM

As a conservative and a registered Republican I say "good deal" too. I just don't want this to turn into a Democrat witch hunt. Let's thoroughly investigate this in a non-partisan manner and punish the wrongdoers.

Posted by: Tony at January 4, 2006 12:34 PM

It's the best goverment money can buy.

Posted by: elbogz at January 4, 2006 12:54 PM

Yeah, "We've already had a Republican witch hunt with Clinton and saw what a waste of time and money that was. Let's not replicate it with the Republicans as the target now," right?

A little "Do as we say and not as we do"? Well, in this case, I agree. Find the guilty, fine them, jail them, kick 'em out of office and move on.

Posted by: Dan Trabue at January 4, 2006 04:31 PM

Tony writes: Let's thoroughly investigate this in a non-partisan manner and punish the wrongdoers.

There's a problem with doing a thorough investigation of corruption in the Congress, and this isn't the first time the Justice Department has been faced with it.

During the ABSCAM investigation, investigators reckoned that a systemic prosecution of all the members of Congress they could catch in their sting operations would result in the unseating of up to a full third of the membership. Prosecutors correctly decided that symbolic prosecutions of some of the most high profile offenders would inspire the Congress to clean up its own house. If they had done what Tony is suggesting should be done in this case, there would have been some very serious Separation Of Powers concerns as the prosecution could very easily have overturned the political order of the Congress.

I don't think anybody here wants to see federal prosecutors on a project to unseat every last member of Congress even peripherally involved in the Abramoff scandal. This affair, if properly handled, will touch a handful of Republican members and leave most of the minor players in both parties standing next to their mangled political careers thanking their lucky stars they weren't in that bus when it went over the rail.

Posted by: s9 at January 4, 2006 08:12 PM

IMO there is a greater, opportunistic and corruptive structural problem, endemic to how money flows in DC which is enabling the whole scandal in the first place - it's feeding off a political economy of some sort, and it's hiding from the media by inattention - maybe it needs to have actual free-market forces balance it out. I dunno.

Posted by: -keith in mtn. view at January 5, 2006 12:51 PM

"maybe it needs to have actual free-market forces balance it out."

Free market to balance out a system already sold to the highest bidders? I think not.

Posted by: Dan Trabue at January 5, 2006 02:30 PM

Maybe, if the Republican leadership were to step up and put forward some kind of reform proposal— even one that was obviously just a placeholder for a real proposal— this situation wouldn't be such a dark, tragic comedy. Instead, what we have is a cabal of corrupt political elites caught in the worst kind of bribery scandal imaginable, and their response has so far been to point at the political opposition and say, "Look! Some of them are so sleazy that they're willing to get involved in this mess too!"

We don't have anything like a democratic legislative process in this country anymore, and you Republicans are mostly to blame for it. The way laws have been written in the Congress since the GOP blow-out has been more like an auction than a democracy.

And not just any kind of auction, but a private, by-invitation-only, sealed-bid and secret auction. Your guys openly announced they were doing this, and you supported them all the way down the line. And you continue to excuse them for it. Even the sorts of reforms that would keep the system functioning like an auction, but would at least make the players make their bids in public where everyone can see them— even those reforms were too much for you.

Cry me a river, Republicans. Deep in your black hearts, you've never believed there was anything wrong with how Jack Abramoff built out the GOP political machine. At least, have the spine to stand up for what you believe and say it loud and proud that this is the way business should be done from now onward.

All this tut-tutting about Abramoff from you now is highly unseemly. You should stop embarrassing yourselves. You may not have any shame anymore, but your constituents still expect you to have a sense of honor and loyalty to an ideal.

Posted by: s9 at January 5, 2006 04:20 PM