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Thursday, January 05, 2006

FLEEING ABRAMOFF: In the pantheon of non-virtues, one of the most despicable is the perennial human impulse to abandon a friend when he's down. But that's not what's involved in so many Washingtonians now distancing themselves from Abramoff. After all, the relationships now being abandoned weren't "friendships" — with the possible exception of Tom Delay, who has called Casino Jack one of his dearest. No, what strikes me is the sudden epidemic of highly public impeccability, with the President and Speaker of the House declining to remain in possession of the funds they received from the newly indicted Abramoff. (Look for similar displays of piousness from Democrats, who likewise benefitted from the generosity of this lobbiest's largesse.) I'm reminded of the way children will go to great lengths to put the candy back in the jar when they have a pretty good idea they were seen taking it without permission. No doubt we can expect to hear some Clinton-like distinctions between what seem to be the bribes of Abramoff and "normal" high-dollar campaign contributions. This might be a great weekend to rent the movie Casablanca:
[after observing the gambling tables at Rick's] Customer: Are you sure this place is honest? Carl: Honest? As honest as the day is long! [as he goes to hand Renault a bribe] Jan Brandel: Captain Renault... may I? Captain Renault: Oh no! Not here please! Come to my office tomorrow morning. We'll do everything businesslike. Jan Brandel: We'll be there at six! Captain Renault: I'll be there at ten. Rick: How can you close me up? On what grounds? Captain Renault: I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here! [a croupier hands Renault a pile of money] Croupier: Your winnings, sir. Captain Renault: [sotto voce] Oh, thank you very much. [aloud] Captain Renault: Everybody out at once!
(By the way, these musings come from one who believes the Supreme Court got it wrong in ruling that the giving of campaign contributions is not a form of protected free speech.)