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The Tragedy of Jack Abramoff

Posted by GayPatriotWest at 8:19 pm - January 3, 2006.
Filed under: National Politics

While most who are commenting on the guilty pleas today of lobbyist Jack Abramoff are focusing on the sleaziness of his operation (and its effects on the political climate in Washington), I see the whole story as a tragedy in the classic sense of the term. Unlike most of those commenting on the affair, I know Jack, though it perhaps might be more accurate to say I knew Jack for the Jack Abramoff I knew when I was involved in College Republicans (CR) in the early 1980s bears little resemblance to the man who stood before a federal judge this morning. That said, given all that I have learned about his scandal, like Michelle Malkin, I “condemn his criminal activities unequivocally.” And agree with the White House that he “must be held to account for what he did.”

When I knew Jack, he was the idealistic national chairman of the College Republican National Committee. Not only did he encourage me to become more active in the group, but he also furthered my education, introducing me to a number of conservative and libertarian thinkers. Indeed, when I became state chairman of the Massachusetts College Republicans, he frequently sent me (and the other state chairmen) books and articles. He did not merely see the mission of College Republicans as helping elect Republicans, but also as promoting ideas. We were not merely to be the collegiate foot soldiers of the Reagan Revolution, we were also to be its advocates and intellectuals.

The Jack I knew (though not without his flaws) was a decent man. In the summer of 1983 when I was interning in DC, I asked Jack to join my parents and me for dinner when they were in town. So impressed were they by Jack that they asked about him for years after that meal. I recall how he charmed my very liberal mother, knowing exactly what to say so as not to offend her even when advocating some very conservative ideas. When I stepped down as state chairman to focus on my studies, not only did he thank me for my efforts, but he also sent a leter to my mother, telling her what a good job her son had done, regretting my decision. College Republicans, he said, would miss my leadership.

Jack was a true and gracious leader with a vision that went beyond merely promoting his party. He was eager as well to promote ideas and to help other bright young conservatives advance.

Given that promise, I am particularly saddened by his fall. (It’s one reason that though I have followed this story, I have not posted on it until today.) It’s not just the tale of another greedy lobbyist who did not know his limits, but of the fall of a man who once had a vision. And that is why it is a real tragedy. An idealist, a man of great promise, loses sight of his ideals in the pursuit of power or pecuniary rewards.

To be sure, Jack is not the first idealist to succumb to the lure of lucre. Nor will he will the last. Throughout history, noble men (& women) have given in to the appeal of easy wealth. And though some on the left will surely bloviate (indeed, may have already bloviated) on how this represents some kind of corruption inherent in conservatism (or the current GOP), it is rather a corruption inherent in human nature itself. Many on the left — just as many on the right — have set their principles (and ideals) aside in their greed for gain. Just as many of all political stripes have held onto their principles, their ideals rather than give in for the sake of easy wealth or increased power.

It is truly a tragedy when men of principle (and vision) fall. In the classic definition of the word, a tragedy is when a once-prosperous individual suffers misfortune due to a flaw on his part, a flaw for which he is responsible. For Jack, it appears that flaw was the desire to get more money through the scheme he had set up to tap into the wealth generated by tribal casinos. His fall is a tragedy not merely because of Jack’s idealism but also because, as my immediate predecessor as Massachusetts CR chairman (and Jack’s successor) put it, “Jack had the potential to do great things.”

He squandered that potential in his greed for gain.

Thus, this story is doubly sad for me, sad on a personal level, to see the fall of someone I once admired and considered a friend and sad because it shows a man of principle brought down by greed. I had thought it was political idealists who were the least likely to become corrupt.

And it makes me wonder if it could have happened to me. The last time I saw Jack was in 1995 when, just out of law school, I was looking for a job in politics or public policy in Washington. We met in the lobby of his firm’s office where I handed him a copy my resume and we exchanged pleasantries. We didn’t talk long. He said he’d keep his eyes open (for positions suitable to my talents and aspirations); I didn’t hear back from him. Perhaps had he helped me find work, I might have felt obligated to help him when he was looking for favors and gotten tangled up in the mess in which some of his friends (and at least one of my former CR colleagues) now find themselves. I would like to think while I’m always eager to help a friend (particularly one who has helped me) that my idealism and ethics would have prevented me from engaging in such behavior. But, Jack was both idealistic and a far more religious Jew than am I and look where is today.

Perhaps it is Jack’s faith which has made contrite today. When the scope of his crimes — and his own downfall — is made manifest to the tragic hero, he admits his wrong and accepts the penalty. In pleading guilty today, Jack showed such an attitude:

Words will not ever be able to express my sorrow and my profound regret for all my actions and mistakes. . . . I hope I can merit forgiveness from the Almighty and those I’ve wronged or caused to suffer.

It is the choices we make which define us as individuals. Jack forgot his ideals and lost sight of the ethical teachings of our faith and so today faces as many as thirty years behind bars. At least he recognizes that he is responsible for the bad choices he has made.

Given Jack’s idealism, I remain befuddled as his choices. He was never hurting for money when I knew him. And the sums he was pocketing seem far more than enough for a family to live in luxury (let alone comfort). It reminded me of a tale Peggy Noonan recounted as the Enron scandal was first coming to light. Certain retired executives of a corporation pressed for shares when their company went public, not because they needed the money, but because as the former CEO explained to her, “Everyone wants more.

Democrats will try to dress this up a tale of the “culture of corruption” which, they believe, defines today’s Republican Party. But, it’s not that. It’s the tale of a corrupt Republican — and those he influenced. But, it’s more than that. It’s another unfortunate example of how the lure of increased power and wealth can corrupt even the most idealistic of individuals. We see more Republicans succumbing today than we do Democrats because our party has controlled Congress now for over our decade. We are the party in power. But, as American political history — and even the news of the day — shows, Democrats are not immune to this weakness. Even some of the most idealistic of their number.

And that to me is the real tragedy of Jack Abramoff’s fall. That a once promising man, a born leader, with strong and passionate beliefs and the ability to articulate them, could, like so many individuals throughout history, compromise his principles out of greed, not to gain money to feed his family or educate his children, but because, like Peggy’s corporate acquaintance, he just wanted more.

-Dan (AKA GayPatriotWest):

UPDATE: After reading the post, Ted Higgins, my predecessor as state chairman of the Massachusetts College Republicans wrote in to elaborate on Jack’s good qualities and I reprint with permission:

I think you captured it very well. You are spot on about Jack promoting ideas rather than just party candidates. Also worth mentioning that he had extraordinary charisma and leadership abilities for someone of that age.



  1. QUAKE!!


    Comment by monty — January 3, 2006 @ 9:05 pm - January 3, 2006

  2. Well done, GPW.

    This is, in my opinion, your finest bit of writing yet — and so completely true.

    Comment by North Dallas Thirty — January 3, 2006 @ 10:02 pm - January 3, 2006

  3. “I hope I can merit forgiveness from the Almighty and those I’ve wronged or caused to suffer.”

    It is amazing that all of these sleazebags, Abramoff, Duke Cunningham, et al, come up with the same lame God forgive me BS when they are finally forced to admit their crimes. Always a guilty plea though so that they can gain a lighter sentence while bringing down their partners in crime.

    Disgusting……not sad.

    Comment by Lmiller — January 3, 2006 @ 10:22 pm - January 3, 2006

  4. Keelhaul All of Them

    Anyone calling for investigations in a partisan tone wont like the outcome since it is just as likely that many of their own will be taken out behind the woodshed. And for that reason, expect Congress to hunker down and hope that the Abramoff investi…

    Trackback by A Blog For All — January 3, 2006 @ 10:47 pm - January 3, 2006

  5. Dan, I have to agree with North Dallas Thirty. This might be the finest piece your’ve posted. You clearly regret what Jack Abramoff did but make no excuses for him. Your personal pain is obvious.

    Unless someone has invested a lot of trust in a friend and been betrayed, he or she can’t really understand what you’re feeling. Sadly, Dan, I understand.

    Comment by Jack Allen — January 3, 2006 @ 11:52 pm - January 3, 2006

  6. Dan, personal, well written and touching. The dehumanizing and recrimination will start soon enough. While I imagine that there is no excuse for his behavior, this sort of story might help us to temper our anger.

    Comment by Matt Sherman — January 4, 2006 @ 12:04 am - January 4, 2006

  7. […] Gay Patriot writes of The Tragedy of Jack Abramoff and as he knew him personally, it’s a compelling and well-written read. Couple it with this piece by Matthew Continetti, Money, Mobsters and Murder and you begin to think this story is going to be very, very big and very destructive for many people. […]

    Pingback by The Anchoress » It’s electric! — January 4, 2006 @ 12:29 am - January 4, 2006

  8. Thank the stars and bars and the three bean salad Jacky A. was running a one man show. Poor little dude. He just made some bad choices. Luckily one bad apple does not spoil the barrel.

    Comment by Pinko Punko — January 4, 2006 @ 1:23 am - January 4, 2006

  9. Sorry guy, this man is a greedy pig. end of story. 12 hard working people dead in a mine explosion is the true tragedy of the day.

    Comment by Kevin — January 4, 2006 @ 5:06 am - January 4, 2006

  10. People are deluding themselves if they think Abramoff was the only, or even the worst, operator in DC. Whenever there is that much money and power in one place, corruption will follow; especially since the essence of politics is taking money from some people and giving it to other people.

    Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow PUSH coalition may well be one of the most corrupt organizations in the USA, but it will never be investigated because of political correctness. Similarly, we now know that the NEA is nothing other than a money-laundering operation for transferring union dues to the Democrat Party. But that also will not raise any ire in the left-wing media, because they are basically the PR wing of the Democratic Party; which in itself is a form of journalistic corruption.

    Comment by V the K — January 4, 2006 @ 6:56 am - January 4, 2006

  11. […] Gay Patriot West looks at the Jack he knew in the 1980’s and contrasts him with now. […]

    Pingback by Myopic Zeal :: Jack Abramoff Pleads Guilty, Washington Sweats :: January :: 2006 — January 4, 2006 @ 8:00 am - January 4, 2006

  12. I am sure Dems were Involved too…But, It’s nice to see the Repugs “goin’ down” – thats right, Squeell like a pig Jack!!! The 2006 elections can’t come soon enuff! It will be nice to see the Iraqy Vets running under the Dem ticket – kick but! Oh, and I don’t doubt for a minute the Repukes will try to swiftboat these vets…you know, like 95% of the Repukes who NEVER served thier country!

    Comment by JRC — January 4, 2006 @ 9:44 am - January 4, 2006

  13. Contrast quotes from two very different men when they realized their game was up:

    “I hope I can merit forgiveness from the Almighty and those I’ve wronged or caused to suffer.”

    – Jack Abramoff

    “Well, we’ll just have to win, then.”

    – Bill Clinton

    Comment by Rittenhouse — January 4, 2006 @ 10:28 am - January 4, 2006

  14. Thank you for writing this and it is most certainly a tragedy. And it happens time and again to people that you would think impervious to the lure of greed. After having been away for a long time I decided to start with Genisis and read the entire Bible. I am amazed that time and again the very ones who were given the most just didn’t think it was enough. David, Solomon…the list goes on and on. The only solid given is that human nature seems never to change and that we must each be always vigilant in our personal lives and decisions.

    Comment by Drugstore Cowgirl — January 4, 2006 @ 10:46 am - January 4, 2006

  15. A good housecleaning and chastening would benefit Republicans in the long run, even if it means losing seats in 2006. Getting rid of RINO wussy-boys like Mike DeWine and pork-barrel barons like Tom DeLay would help return the party to its small-government, conservative roots.

    Comment by V the K — January 4, 2006 @ 10:46 am - January 4, 2006

  16. Can you really say with a straight face this is not a direct result of the sleazy Delay/Norquist K Street Project creating a slush fund to finance a permanent Republucan Majority? This is a Pay-for-Play influence peddling scheme and saying that a few Democrats also received donations from his clients does not make it bipartisan.

    Comment by Ed — January 4, 2006 @ 11:59 am - January 4, 2006

  17. The 2006 elections can’t come soon enuff! It will be nice to see the Iraqy Vets running under the Dem ticket – kick but! Oh, and I don’t doubt for a minute the Repukes will try to swiftboat these vets…you know, like 95% of the Repukes who NEVER served thier country!

    In this case, “swift-boating” will consist of the following:

    Dem “candidate”: “The invasion of Iraq was a miserable failure!”

    Republican response: “Then why are you home cheering about the free elections, happy people, and other things that you and your fellow soldiers helped to create?”

    What Democrats don’t realize is the inherent contradiction in their message; John Kerry, for instance, tried to use the fact that he was a “war hero” as a means to win votes, but failed to think through the fact that he had said it was WRONG for people to serve in the armed forces and how people who did were nothing but vicious killers and torturers.

    The problem’s not in the fact that the Dems don’t have enough veterans running; it’s that the fact that you’re a veteran doesn’t make up for a lousy, contradictory, moonbat answer.

    Comment by North Dallas Thirty — January 4, 2006 @ 12:11 pm - January 4, 2006

  18. Of course, Ed, because Democrats are clean and pure and totally incorruptible. Only Republicans are capable of corruption. Not only that, All Republicans are corrupt, but all Democrats are pure, selfless advocates for the public good.

    And if a Democrat lays his hands on you, he will cure your cancer. In fact, did you know Democrat farts can be harnessed as a pure, non-polluting form of renewable energy? It’s true.

    Comment by Gaylord McGay — January 4, 2006 @ 12:15 pm - January 4, 2006

  19. Agree with #3. Jacky A’s attitude is like “I’m guilty only because I got caught.” Do you think that if no one ever found out about his shenanigans, that he would voluntarily come forward and confess? He had a choice between going to prison for a short time and going to prison for a long time. He’s not the saint some make him out to be.

    Comment by Hello Moto — January 4, 2006 @ 12:36 pm - January 4, 2006

  20. A beautiful and trenchant essay, sir. You honed in the classical tragedy which also touches (and fascinates) me deeply. And you’re honest enough (as am I) to wonder how well you would have fared in the face of the same temptations.

    I believe Abramoff DID do some great things along the way, which perhaps in part drove him to accumulate more. I read about a Jewish school he founded and funded at great cost (what will happen to the school now?). I read about him helping Israeli soldiers. He obviously had to keep his restaurants functioning as his private wine & dine facility… and everyone knows what slim margins are involved with the restaurant biz.

    Well, it all caught up with Jack and I’ll bet he’s relieved in many ways. The interesting thing will be to see what he does in the NEXT chapter of his life. I am not counting him out. Anyone remember Michael Milken?

    Comment by SallyVee — January 4, 2006 @ 12:39 pm - January 4, 2006

  21. Was wondering when you’d get around to writing about this. Interesting to compare _your_ Jack with Midgette’s:

    ABRAMOFF [John Podhoretz]
    I met him 21 years ago at Grover Norquist’s house, and I remember having the distinct feeling that I needed to wash my hands after shaking his.
    Posted at 09:49 AM, The Corner, NRO

    Comment by anon — January 4, 2006 @ 12:44 pm - January 4, 2006

  22. #3 and #19, I pondered whether or not this was an opportunistic admission of guilt. But, based on the Jack Abramoff I knew two decades ago, I believe he is genuinely contrite. When he finally stepped back and became aware of what he had done, he became aware of the scope of his wrongdoing. (Rather than look at it in the heat of the moment when he is actively involved.)

    That said, I grant that it’s a fair question whether he feels shame for his wrongdoing or merely upset that he got caught doing it.

    A truly contrite man would accept punishment without complaint. So, let’s see how he handles his sentence.

    Comment by GayPatriotWest — January 4, 2006 @ 12:45 pm - January 4, 2006

  23. I was wondering when you’d get around to writing about this. Interesting to compare _your_ Jack with Midgette’s:

    ABRAMOFF [John Podhoretz]
    I met him 21 years ago at Grover Norquist’s house, and I remember having the distinct feeling that I needed to wash my hands after shaking his.
    Posted at 09:49 AM, The Corner, NRO

    Comment by anon — January 4, 2006 @ 12:48 pm - January 4, 2006

  24. I knew Jack on an ongoing basis at the time. And I wonder if Podhoretz’s comments are based not on what he felt at the time, but his feelings based upon what he has read about Jack in the past few months. He says he met with him only once back then. Or perhaps we both had two different impressions of the same man. These things happen.

    In the 1980s, Jack, though a basically decent man, was not without his flaws. His drive and ambition may have put a few people off.

    Comment by GayPatriotWest — January 4, 2006 @ 12:55 pm - January 4, 2006

  25. People! You have to get caught before you can experience shame. Prior to that, the voices whispering in your head keep you thinking you can fix the whole mess, if only… that keep you thinking you’re not really crossing any significant lines, because no one has stopped you… yada yada. Getting caught is the gift. What happens next is the surprise.

    Comment by SallyVee — January 4, 2006 @ 1:00 pm - January 4, 2006

  26. Very touching and eloquent piece.

    Jack himself – I’m ashamed to admit this, but I think he’s very handsome. Am I a bad person?

    I’m also interested in the ties ‘moral’ crusaders have to him.

    Lou Sheldon and Ralph Reed are both caught up in this. You may have heard of them, but another name I had not heard of until recently was Rabbi Daniel Lapin. Last year he compared Israeli gays marching in Jerusalem to Nazis marching in Skokie.

    Comment by Carl — January 4, 2006 @ 1:01 pm - January 4, 2006

  27. What I’m most happy about it that two wrongs make a right. Thank the muffin man, JHC.

    Comment by Pinko Punko — January 4, 2006 @ 1:54 pm - January 4, 2006

  28. A few weeks ago, the History Channel had an insightful program on aerial dogfighting from WW1 to Vietnam. Much of it’s jet-age commentary was from Duke Cunningham and his electonics officer on their epic three-kills mission over North Vietnam where their F4 Phantom was hit and barely made it to the coast to be rescued at sea. It was clear why Cunningham was nominated and awarded the Congressinal Medal of Honor. It demonstrated both his fighting courage, and his humanity as he went to the training schools to teach and inspire other, younger pilots in the Art of Dogfighting…and winning. It wasn’t until the very end that I made the connection that this was the same Duke Cunningham who later-on sold his Honor and debased his seat in Congress for pieces of filthy silver.

    Comment by Ted B. (Charging Rhino) — January 4, 2006 @ 2:36 pm - January 4, 2006

  29. I wonder if he really understands how much damage he has done.

    Comment by Bostonian — January 4, 2006 @ 2:57 pm - January 4, 2006

  30. Oh boy. Compassionate conservatism. Buncha bleeding heart wingnuts. Wah wah wah.

    Comment by PeaceOut — January 4, 2006 @ 3:55 pm - January 4, 2006

  31. Dan, I keep re-reading your piece and what becomes alarmingly apparent is that Jack was charming and seductive and you got taken in… he did what many of us in the political arena do on a regular basis –“recruit” friends and peers for later use. It’s called “people collecting”; it’s a very deliberate, concerted approach that appears genuine and unaffected when done right.

    In my short life, I’ve felt the tug of collecting from Mitch Daniels and Dick Lugar, Elliot Richardson, Al Haig, Malcolm Baldridge, Bob Teeter, Bill Kristol, Jeannie Kirkpatrick and waaaaaay back, Don Riegle, Dale Kildee, and the Levin brothers.

    But even the limited public affairs lobbying I do in DC 2-3 times a year, I’ve heard from contemporaries that JA was dirty… and not in a good way. And long before any stories broke in the MSM –and there are lots of JA’s around, guy.

    You might have been seduced, Dan. It’s easy to be recruited and, frankly, ego-boosting. But it is simply part of the game played at this level –and it’s been so since Washington’s recruitment of Hamilton and Jefferson into his elite club. And Jefferson’s of Monroe… and on and on.

    If you could have seen JA in action with others, I’m sure you’d be informed of his true nature. Vision? Leadership to advance the cause? Corruption by power? I don’t know. Crooked? Oh yeah.

    Novel? Nope. Keating 7 revisited –only now the number will probably be closer to 40.

    Comment by Michigan-Matt — January 4, 2006 @ 8:42 pm - January 4, 2006

  32. I think JA will ultimately sing to the federal prosecutors… and there’ll be lots of wounded soldiers walking around… then some “tough reform” legislation to clean up the mess and make politics respectable again… and then the game begins anew, with fresh players, and in earnest.

    Comment by Michigan-Matt — January 4, 2006 @ 8:46 pm - January 4, 2006

  33. I accidentally posted this comment for this post in the comments for the post above:

    “Dan, I think you should write more about your time in MA College Republicans. Is it true what they said about Reagan’s regiments in the 1980’s? Did y’all really wear navy blazers and khakis and look like a bunch of stuffed shirts? Do you often hear in the news names you were familiar with back then? “

    Comment by Hello Moto — January 4, 2006 @ 8:49 pm - January 4, 2006

  34. Was I seduced, Michigan-Matt or did the some of flaws which I recognized in Jack’s character (in the 1980s) come to define him in the succeeding years?

    You ask a fair question.

    In my defense, let me say that I did see Jack in interaction with other people and while I recalled that at times he was abrasive, more often than not he was gracious. He did have a vision and, in my era, accomplished a number of good things for the College Republicans. (Since I didn’t know him in the years after he left the CRNC, I can’t comment on that.)

    If anything, the point of this post is that politics can corrupt even men (& women) with vision. One sure test of the character of a man (or woman) in the political arena is how he reacts to the blandishments of power and pecuniary gain. And Jack, despite his past idealism, clearly failed on that score.

    Comment by GayPatriotWest — January 4, 2006 @ 8:56 pm - January 4, 2006

  35. Hello Moto in #32–Well, a lot of us wore navy blazers and khakis back then. A few did look like stuffed shirts and I recall one man from Arkansas who may have looked like a stuffed shirt from time to time, but boy did he look good that way.

    Those who defined us as stuffed shirts seemed to want to stereotype us in some way rather than describe the reality of the youthful face of the Reagan Revolution. They wanted to dismiss the vast numbers of young people who supported the Gipper and to compare us unfavorably to the ’60s generation whose presence was rapidly fading on college campuses in the ’80s. We wore jeans, we drank, some of the libertarians did drugs, we had a good time. Indeed, we may well have been the first college generation of, what we would now call, South Park Conservatives.

    The College Republicans of my generation were a very diverse lot. There were a number of Jewish State chairman. And I have been surprised at the number of state chairman (from my era) who later came out as gay. Five men come to mind right away, two of whom, when last I heard, had been coupled since shortly after they met in College Republicans.

    And there was, alas, as is often the case in youth political movements, a disturbing degree of ideological rigidity.

    I occasionally hear about some of my former CR colleagues in the news, including Ralph Reed (with whom I used to go drinking) and Grover Norquist (whom I knew but not well).

    Comment by GayPatriotWest — January 4, 2006 @ 9:09 pm - January 4, 2006

  36. Wow, CR is the last place I’d think of to meet guys. Maybe I should pay attention the next time the CR leadership at my college sends an e-mail about some convention or another. Congratulations. You’ve recruited another member for the gay GOP mafia.

    Comment by Hello Moto — January 4, 2006 @ 10:17 pm - January 4, 2006

  37. Michigan Matt, I enjoyed your comments in #30. I’ve been away from the game so long I’d almost forgotten about “people collecting” and the rituals of seduction.

    As a high student my ego was stroked for much of a year by one of the greatest people collectors of modern politics, Lyndon B. Johnson — who at the time was Senate Majority Leader. The seduction came close to being realized three years later when Vice President Johnson remembered me by name and recalled our encounters in the Capitol building. But I did not let it happen and in 1964 worked my butt off for Barry Goldwater.

    I guess people collecting isn’t easy across party lines, although I greatly admired many of the things President Johnson did, especially in civil rights and voting rights.

    Comment by Jack Allen — January 4, 2006 @ 11:06 pm - January 4, 2006

  38. Dan, I feel for you, because it is hard to see a friend go down. I have no sympathy for Jack Abramoff – and he is going to bring a number of people down with him. Ralph Reed will probably go down with him – and I’m not crying over that one.

    I think if Jack Abramoff had been called on this sort of thing, earlier in his career, he would never have gotten out of control over this. Power does corrupt, absolute power corrupts absolutely.

    You have a greek tragedy in you, Dan. I hope you write a greek tragedy – and get it in film.

    I think Abramoff has alot of Bill Clinton in him – Bill Clinton was also idealistic – and also quite morally flawed.

    Comment by Eva Young — January 5, 2006 @ 12:00 am - January 5, 2006

  39. This is all Inside baseball stuff. No one outside the beltway much cares about legalisms like these.

    And the Dems hardly have a leg to stand on after Tammany Hall. Democratic ethics is an oxymoron.

    The larger questions is whether or not is appropriate to conduct this sort of investigation while we are at war. I’m sure Abramoff is a crook but if this takes Tom DeLay down, we will have lots a valuable leader in the war on terror.

    Comment by DougJ — January 5, 2006 @ 1:42 am - January 5, 2006

  40. #33 Dan, I get your point; thanks for clarifying it. No need to offer defense if you question whether you were seduced by JA’s charms or his vision –it’s all part of the nature of the game. Just look around a national political convention sometime and note the young, eager2please scrubbed faces serving as Sgt@Arms or FloorMgrs… they’ve been seduced by the promise of proximity to power. And it happens to literally hundreds of young men & women at each convention –except for the Libertarians who refuse to pay for the pizza and cheap hotel rooms needed to gather in those young, eager people.

    I accept your claim that JA’s vision and effort contributed to the CRs.

    I would offer that corruption is more about opportunity than character. I know of strong moral characters who, when the opportunity was present, allowed corruption to cloud or overtake prudent judgement… it’s kind of a genie that, once let out of the bottle, is tough to push back in even with the strongest of wills. But with JA, it isn’t a question of a singular instance… he’s practiced it to nearly an artform –corrupting others while corrupting self.

    And there are a lot of JAs practicing inside the beltway.

    #36 JackAllen, I’ve read that about LBJ… and JE Hoover… and HHH and even SCOTUS CJ Earl Warren of the period. But I’ve yet to meet a Goldwater workerbee who didn’t stay-the-course… you guys were the first unflinching conservatives in DC since Hamilton. And frankly, DC today– 40 yrs later– wouldn’t be without the AuH2O conservatives.

    Comment by Michigan-Matt — January 5, 2006 @ 12:03 pm - January 5, 2006

  41. Michigan-Matt in #39, there are a lot of small-scale Jack Abramoffs inside the Beltway, but I disagree that corruption is more about opportunity than character. It’s about both.

    If someone had a strong moral character, he would be able to resist the blandishments of the political process (i.e., when the opportunity arises). Such an individual would know where to draw the line.

    Jack did not and hence his downfall.

    Comment by GayPatriotWest — January 5, 2006 @ 1:38 pm - January 5, 2006

  42. I hear you on your trust in strong moral character keeping a handle on illegal, corrupting behavior Dan. But I still think –and you know this a hell of lot better than I from your studies– that the herstory of men is littered with “people of strong moral character” being seduced by the opportunities presented by corrupting power.

    We can say that those people weren’t truly “strong” if they indulged… but that misses the fundamental point that we only learned they weren’t strong when we discovered they were seduced by opportunity. Prior to that knowledge –they were of strong moral character; our reference point is prior to opportunity.

    I’m not sure JA was ever in that camp of strong moral character corrupted and debased. Did he help out CRs? You say so and I defer. But he had a career of helping out House/Sen GOP and House/Sen Dems; in a corrupted fashion. But they’d have said he was helpful.

    Was he of strong moral fiber corrupted by the opportunities of power? I think not from my vantage. He was inherently corrupt to have began and continue in his various frauds –if not for the opportunity, maybe he’d still be a visionary. No man need sell his soul unless the price is right for him. JA didn’t come on the cheap. And are there lesser JAs in DC? Probably. But there are others equal to your subject operating in DC right now on a daily basis.

    Comment by Michigan-Matt — January 5, 2006 @ 5:02 pm - January 5, 2006

  43. Wonkette posted this reminisce about Abramoff ex-partner Michael Scanlon:

    I was reading Washingtonian magazine last night while waiting for my physical therapy “rendition”. While flipping through the pages I came upon a picture of Michael Scanlon, laid out next to a yearbook photo from Walter Johnson High School of Sean Scanlon. Under the two photos was a caption stating something about how Michael “Sean” Scanlon was known as Sean at Walter Johnson High School.

    “That’s funny,” I thought. “I went to WJ and I knew a guy there named Sean Scanlon who was a complete fucking asshole.”

    I checked the photo, and his graduation date, and it dawned on me that this was the very same fucking asshole who once, while wandering round
    drunk after leaving a party that had been busted up by the cops, threatened me by waiving a large tree limb in my face and saying “If you ever put a curse on my sister again, I’m going to kill you.” Not only was he an asshole and a bully, he was also delusional. I’m not sure where he got the idea that I had put a curse on his sister but he apparently found teenagers dressed all in black to be mysterious and scary, even when they were 5’2″ tall 14 year old girls.”

    You were not the first “South Park Republicans” by the way. What about George W. Bush? And of course his frat boy demeanor wasn’t new either.

    Comment by anon — January 5, 2006 @ 8:32 pm - January 5, 2006

  44. At the end of the day, the Abramoff scandal will hurt Republicans more than Democrats, mainly because Republican voters won’t vote for Republican candidates they regard as corrupt, but Democrat voters don’t care.

    To illustrate, the careers of Republicans Bob Taft and Duke CUnningham were ended because of relatively minor corruption scandals. Whereas Democrat politicians like John Street in Philadelphia, John Corzine in New Jersey, Kwame Kiltpatrick in Detroit, and even Bill Clinton (remember the pardons?) all but ooze corruption from every pore and are easily elected, re-elected, and lionized by their party.

    Comment by V the K — January 6, 2006 @ 9:41 am - January 6, 2006

  45. #38 LOL
    That is the funniest, most likely to be quoted post in ages.

    Comment by hank — January 6, 2006 @ 9:50 pm - January 6, 2006

  46. to say this is a bipartisan issue is quite delusional. it will definitely hurt republicans more than democrats considering that the republicans are in power, abrahamoff was a republican and a considerable majority of the parties involved are republicans, with the exception of a few democrats.
    i do agree that what you wrote was poignant and heartfelt, it sounded like the time you met ja was an exciting, inspirational time. It’s unfortunate that I don’t feel that same sense of excitement and inspiration at this time in our history.

    Comment by boston — January 6, 2006 @ 10:02 pm - January 6, 2006

  47. VtheK in #43, I sure wouldn’t characterize Duke Cunningham’s betrayal of the public trust as a relatively minor scandal. The SOB took millions in bribes in return for using his elected office to benefit a private party.

    Comment by Jack Allen — January 7, 2006 @ 1:10 am - January 7, 2006

  48. […] That Jack Abramoff is neutrino-like in his interactions with others. Practically massless, and certainly chargeless he passes through the vacuum of space and the center of the earth with almost equal speed. Truly a loner, a self-contained pit of decrepitude on the inside, coated in Silverstone™ on the outside, corrupting no other lonely souls with his non-existent sphere of influence. Gay Patriot has more. I love Gay Patriot. It’s the je ne sais quoi, doncha know. […]

    Pingback by Why Do I Get The Feeling at Three Bulls! — January 26, 2006 @ 2:34 am - January 26, 2006

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