Jack Abramoff is the GOP's worst nightmare: a corrupt insider looking for a reduced sentence. A corrupt bitter insider...
His seething resentment at the way his former friends (or, at least, the former recipients of his largesse) have turned their backs on him oozes off the pages of the April Vanity Fair like pus from an infected wound.
"For a guy," he says, "who did all these evil things that have been so widely reported, it's pretty amazing considering I didn't know anyone. You're really no one in this town unless you haven't met me."
Bartender, another round for me and my fellow leper. Abramoff's heartbreak reminds one of the slutty girl from high school who is crushed when the boys who were more than happy to have her in the back seats of their cars on a Saturday night turn around and shun her in the halls on Monday morning. And she's ready to spill the beans.
"Any important Republican," he says, "who comes out and says they didn't know me is almost certainly lying."
A quick review then of a few of these almost certain liars.
There's Ken Mehlman: "Abramoff," he said, "is someone who we don't know a lot about. We know what we read in the paper." This from a man who, according to Vanity Fair, "exchanged email with Abramoff, did him political favors... had Sabbath dinner at his house, and offered to pick up his tab at Signatures" (Abramoff's restaurant). Man, how desperate to curry favor must you be to treat a guy to a meal at his own place? Did Mehlman try to pay for the Shabbat wine, candles, and yarmulkes, too?
Then there's Newt Gingrich, whose spokesman claimed: "Before [Abramoff's] picture appeared on TV and in the newspapers, Newt wouldn't have know him if he fell across him." Watch your step, Newt, you've just stepped on Abramoff's toes. To hear him tell it, "I have more pictures of [Newt] than I have of my wife." Maybe by this he means the Mrs. is camera shy -- but I doubt it.
And Karl Rove who, a White House spokesman tells Vanity Fair, would describe Abramoff as "a casual acquaintance" -- even though Rove has known Abramoff for decades, hired his administrative assistant, dined multiple times in the lobbyist's restaurant, and was his guest at the NCAA March Madness basketball tournament a few years ago. I have friends I spend less time with. Casual, indeed.
Last but not least, there is the president: "I don't know him," he has flatly stated. But according to Abramoff -- and his photo collection -- they've met a number of times, chatting about family and working out. "What are you benching, buff guy?" Abramoff says Bush once inquired of the man he doesn't know. "[Bush] has one of the best memories of any politician I have ever met," wrote Abramoff in an email. "Perhaps he has forgotten everything. Who knows?"
In the Vanity Fair profile, Abramoff floats the far-fetched idea that he should be sentenced to community service instead of jail. "Let me sweep floors at the reservation," he suggests.
Sure, Jack. Why not just ask the judge to let you put your janitorial skills to use in the White House? That way you can repay your debt to society while the president reacquaints himself with your bulging biceps.
Of course, the janitorial bar has been set pretty high in the Oval Office. "Your desk is so clean, Mr. President," gushed Elizabeth Vargas during their recent interview. "Well," replied the president, "that is what happens when you have desk cleaners everywhere."
Or maybe Abramoff can be given broom duty, tasked with keeping clean the president's beloved Oval Office rug -- y'know, the one he is supposedly "fixated" on; the one that says "'optimistic person.'"
That presidential optimism will be sorely tested if Abramoff's lips continue to loosen as he watches his old chums treat him like Typhoid Mary at a hypochondriacs' convention. The singing would-be janitor could be just the thing that will sweep the GOP out of power in 2006.
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