Abramoff - GOP could suffer, opening the way for a third-party movement


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rick_reno
January 4, 2006, 10:15 PM
I could see McCain pulling a third party effort that might have a decent chance of winning.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/10708359/

WASHINGTON - Forget the black hat. Everybody here is obsessed with Jack Abramoff’s gangster-like attire as he came out of the federal courthouse. But the thing that jumps out at me is the figure $20,194,000. If I read the fed’s plea-agreement papers correctly, that’s the amount of cold cash that the Republican lobbyist siphoned from Indian tribes and stashed in his secret accounts.

You may not believe this, but in this city, that is an unheard of amount of money for a lobbyist to haul in — and the number itself signifies a troubling change in the nature of life in the capital of our country.

The denizens of D.C. deal in trillions of dollars. But they are YOUR dollars: tax receipts and federal spending. Lawyers and lobbyists here do well. Still, they haven’t generally been in the same league as money-power types in, say, New York or Los Angeles. This was a city in which official position meant more than a plush vacation home; in which a Ph.D. or J.D. meant more than a BMW. Traditionally, the locals have been more like Vegas blackjack dealers than the greedy people sitting on the other side of the table.

Well, Abramoff jumped the table — and the result will be the biggest influence-peddling scandal to hit Washington in recent times: the Scandal of the Poisoned BlackBerrys, which sent and received e-mails that now will make a gripping saga of greed in action.

And just who are the political losers and winners? There are more of the former than the latter.

LOSERS

Members of Congress: Lawmakers fingered by the feds in Abramoff probe, or who received campaign contributions through the networking of Abramoff, and who are facing re-election this November. Voters tend to like, or at least tolerate, their local congressman, and assume that they aren’t part of the corrupt world of Washington — until the member’s name surfaces in a context like this one.

The Republican Party: The semi-conventional wisdom here is as follows: Some Democrats are likely to be stained by ties to Jack Abramoff; polls show that the public has a plague-on-both-your-houses attitude toward wrongdoing in Washington; therefore, the GOP won’t be hurt in November. I don’t buy it. Republicans are the incumbent party in the Congress. They are led by a less-than-popular president in the traditionally weak sixth year of his presidency.

The DeLay-Hastert Crowd: Rep. Tom DeLay, given his close ties to Abramoff, can forget about getting his job as House Majority Leader back. At least that’s what one GOP backbencher, who insisted on anonymity for now, told me on Tuesday. “We just can’t afford to have him in such a visible position anymore.” DeLay, facing state charges in Texas, could have a tough re-election campaign, if he gets that far. Semi-figurehead Speaker Denny Hastert, installed in the job by DeLay, hastily returned all of his Abramovian campaign contributions, but that only served to underscore his visibility. Look for a major shake-up in the GOP House leadership, perhaps soon.

The Bush-Rove White House: No one is alleging, and I think it is unlikely, that Boy Genius Karl Rove knew in any detail what kind of crook Abramoff really was. On the other hand, Rove was, and in remains — unless he is indicted in the Plame case, the puppet master of Republican Washington. He shares operational and attitudinal roots with Abramoff and the other hustlers in the baby boomer generation of Republican strategists. Over the years, as Rove has needed to “move” legislation — and make no mistake, he has been the guy guiding that process — he has called on the entire GOP lobbying establishment in D.C. to help. The process of building that machinery began long before Rove came to town with Bush. DeLay, Abramoff, Grover Norquist and others began assembling it after the GOP took the House in 1994, demanding that corporate types hire Republicans — and not just any Republicans, THEIR Republicans. Rove then took command of that vehicle when he moved to the White House in 2001. Rove will have a hard time claiming now that he didn’t know how the machinery worked, especially since Abramoff himself became a major contributor to Bush’s re-election campaign.

WINNERS

Third-party reform movement: If Sen. John McCain doesn’t win the Republican presidential nomination, I could see him leading an independent effort to “clean up” the capital as a third-party candidate. Having been seared by his own touch with this type of controversy (the Keating case in the '80s, which was as important an experience to him as Vietnam), McCain could team up with a Democrat, say, Sen. Joe Lieberman. If they could assemble a cabinet in waiting — perhaps Wes Clark for defense, Russ Feingold for justice, Colin Powell for anything — they could win the 2008 election going away.

Public Integrity Section: The Abramoff case is proof, at least so far, that it’s possible for lifers in the bureaucracy to still have a corrective influence on politics run amok in the capital. The case has been handled from the start by professionals who do this kind of work out of a sense of loyalty and idealism. We’ll see if Attorney General Alberto Gonzales leaves them alone if they start working their way toward the White House.

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Crom
January 4, 2006, 10:49 PM
Assuming McCain isn't one of the politicians fingered in the Abramoff probe. Wasn't he also named in the Keating scandal of the 80's with some of his Democratic friends?

Bartholomew Roberts
January 4, 2006, 10:54 PM
I'd have to say that I think Howard Fineman's predictions are unlike to prove true. MSNBC must have linked to that fromn their partner Newsweek. Normally I don't see anything with that much bias in it unless I read an old copy of Newsweek at the doctor's office.

I like how he characterizes Abramoff as a "Republican" lobbyist even though he is connected to lots of Democrats (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/06/02/AR2005060202158.html).

Sen. Conrad Burns (R-MT) received the most money; but Sen. Patrick Kennedy (D-RI) is right behind him.

However, I do agree that 2006 is a great opportunity for third parties to make a difference during the midterm elections. These are probably some of the best conditions they will see in years. Hopefully they can get enough of a foothold in the House to start some momentum.

rick_reno
January 4, 2006, 10:57 PM
Yes - McCain was involved in the Keating mess, but one thing about Manchurain McCain is he is very slippery - hard to get anything to stick. Though he was not convicted of anything, McCain intervened on behalf of Charles Keating after Keating gave McCain at least $112,00 in contributions. In the mid-1980s, McCain made at least 9 trips on Keating's airplanes, and 3 of those were to Keating's luxurious retreat in the Bahamas. McCain's wife and father-in-law also were the largest investors (at $350,000) in a Keating shopping center; the Phoenix New Times called it a "sweetheart deal."

GRB
January 4, 2006, 11:00 PM
Third party headed by McCain, heavens help us. I would rather vote for Mr. McGoo, the easter Bunny, or Snow White. If however, there was a strong third party candidate and both the candidate and the party stood for those things in which I believe, then I would certainly vote that way.

As for the scandal, it should make interedting reading over the next year or two. Sort of like a Mr. Smith Goes To Washington in reverse - this time its Dr. Evil goes to Washington (sorry if that is insulting to either Dr. Evil or Mike Meyers).

CAnnoneer
January 5, 2006, 12:15 AM
Why would a RINO start a third party? He fits in his current company only too well.

Lone_Gunman
January 5, 2006, 12:26 AM
I agree with CAnnoneer,

Why would McCain want to run as a third party? He is a shoe in for the Republican nomination.

Standing Wolf
January 5, 2006, 12:50 AM
Everybody here is obsessed with Jack Abramoffís gangster-like attire as he came out of the federal courthouse.

Everybody at the far left end of the political spectrum, perhaps.

Billll
January 5, 2006, 01:10 AM
Problem with 3-way races is that all too frequently they result in the least popular candidate getting elected.
Candidate A polls 60-40 over candidate C, for example, as does candidate B, but with all 3 in the race, the 60% is split between A and B, giving C the plurality win, 30-30-40.
Manditory runoffs solve this problem, but we don't have that feature at the federal level. Louisiana has it, that I know of. Of course, they have other problems.

TonkinTwentyMil
January 5, 2006, 02:51 AM
I have, shall we say, some up-close familiarity with this bit of economic and political history from 1988-95.

The scandal got its name from Charles Keating, CEO of Lincoln Savings & Loan, one of 700 failing thrifts (banks) -- and one of the largest -- that needed to be shut down because it was way beyond the bounds of all Congressionally-mandated tests of financial health, thereby jeopardizing depositors, the whole federal Deposit Insurance system, the US economy, and thus, the Taxpayers. A news reporterette once asked Keating why he curried politicians and made so many huge political contributions. He boldly replied: "Influence, honey. Influence."

McCain (R-AZ) was one of five U.S. senators stained by the "savings & loan crisis/gov't bail-out" era's federal investigation (1989) into influence peddling (running interference for crooked S&L kingpins trying to thwart the fed regulators' heat). The other 4 senators were Democrats -- DeConcini (AZ), Reigle (MI), Cranston (CA), and Glenn (OH). All were either officially censured or given "warnings." Some decided to retire at their terms' expiration.

Nevertheless, in 1992, the Dems ran strong. Clinton defeated Bush-I and the Dems took Congress.

And "Friends Of Bill" (FOB's) wasted no time in lining up at the Political Fatcat Feeding Trough.

And, gosh, some of those FOB Fatcats even tried to pressure/bulldoze/get-fired -- and physically threaten -- certain "inflexible" senior gov't employees who refused to play political ball with the "new game in town"... and allow certain Fatcats to milk the Taxpayers just a little more via insider/sweetheart deals on real estate assets from seized S&L's. And some of those favor-seeking FOB Fatcats (and their hired Thugs) were simply astonished when certain presumed-docile-but-actually-very-un-PC gov't employees (then) shoved .38s up those Fatcats'/Thugs' noses, thus rudely underscoring the fact that the 2nd Amendment AIN'T about duck hunting. (Trust me here, but that's a whole 'nother story. Trust me, also, when I tell you that certain people, including Hollywood, don't want this story to be told.)

However, some of those said Fatcats would later pay huge fines or go to jail.

Then, in 1994, the GOP kicked butt, taking Congress back (thanks, in part, to Billy-Jeff-Feeyul-Yor-Paiyn's over-reaching on gun control For The Childrun).

The "communications wing" of the Dem party (i.e., the News media) will try to make a big thing outta the Abramoff scandal. Some mud may stick... for a while. But there's a whole buncha festering banyards full of that Brown Stuff that the GOP can fling right back to blunt it, too. Oh, the general public will be turned off for a while. Then, new crises and issues will erase it from the memory bank.

History evolves. Stuff runs in cycles. The more things change, the more they stay the same. (Yawn)

garyk/nm
January 5, 2006, 10:04 AM
McCain/ Lieberman?
Shoot me now.
Please.

Waitone
January 5, 2006, 11:08 AM
The "communications wing" of the Dem party (i.e., the News media) will try to make a big thing outta the Abramoff scandal. Some mud may stick... for a while. But there's a whole buncha festering banyards full of that Brown Stuff that the GOP can fling right back to blunt it, too.Just one more opinion similar to mine. Corruption in the ruling class is systemic, metastatic. and malignant. Nothing substantial will be done because all parties have achieved status of Mutually Assured Destruction.

My personal opinion is if we ever get down to the true foundation of why the ruling class does absolutely nothing about illegal border crossing I think we will see profound corruption of the financial kind. Yes there is politics, yes there is blissninnyism, and yes supply and demand, but ultimately we'll see corruption as the ultimate cause.

Doug b
January 5, 2006, 11:28 AM
TTM methinks if Monica's blue dress was a big scandal, so is Abramoff's millions of dollars of influence peddleing.Some of which didn't come from the tribes gambling operations but from the Russian Gov.You didn't post links so I won't either,trust me right.

Lone_Gunman
January 5, 2006, 11:45 AM
Problem with 3-way races is that all too frequently they result in the least popular candidate getting elected.


When has that ever happened?

ArmedBear
January 5, 2006, 01:46 PM
When has that ever happened?

Depends whom you ask. I'd say that a more accurate statement would be that third-party candidates can throw an election towards the less-popular major-party candidate.

Democrats will say that happened in 2000. They could be correct. Gore did receive a higher total popular vote than Bush. Certainly, it would be silly to assert that Nader was more popular than Gore, but it would not be a stretch to suggest that, in November 2000, Gore was more popular than Bush. It is possible that Nader voters would have stayed home, or voted Democrat, but it is highly unlikely they would have voted Republican.

Republicans will say it happened 1992 and 1996. While 1996 is unlikely, they may well be right about 1992.

Democrats will point to 1968. Memory-refresher at: http://www.multied.com/elections/1968pop.html

1948 is another possibility.

Lone_Gunman
January 5, 2006, 03:22 PM
ArmedBear, you are changing the question. While I agree with what you say, I was hoping to get an example of how the least popular candidate in a three party race gets elected, as suggested by Billl.

wingman
January 5, 2006, 03:26 PM
Just one more opinion similar to mine. Corruption in the ruling class is systemic, metastatic. and malignant. Nothing substantial will be done because all parties have achieved status of Mutually Assured Destruction.



Corruptions is alive and well, also the death spike of freedom and that is greed. The larger it grows the more corrupt we become.:(

longeyes
January 5, 2006, 03:42 PM
If McCain's going to clean something up, it should be himself. We have him to thank for McCain-Feingold and he's no friend of gun owner rights. Add to that that he's soft on illegal immigration and he is exactly what America DOESN'T need. McCain profits from his "war hero" record and that fact that he is politically amorphous for most voters, a kind of bland sanctimonious spectre.

ArmedBear
January 5, 2006, 03:43 PM
bland sanctimonious spectre

I love it!:D

LAK
January 6, 2006, 06:14 AM
Corruptions is alive and well, also the death spike of freedom and that is greed. The larger it grows the more corrupt we become.:(
And these are among the "incorruptible men of steel" that an astounding number of people are convinced will not abuse the usurped and greater powers and compromized rights under the blanket secrecy of "national security" and the "war on terror".
---------------------------------------

http://ussliberty.org
http://ssunitedstates.org

Dannyboy
January 6, 2006, 10:14 AM
McCain
Lieberman
Feingold
Clark
:barf: :barf: :barf: :barf:

Shoot me now.

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