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Tilting at Windmills

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January 28, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

A BIPARTISAN SCANDAL?....The American Prospect has commissioned Dwight L. Morris and Associates, a specialist in campaign finance, to examine the contribution records of Indian tribes since 1991 to find out how their giving patterns changed based on whether or not they hired Jack Abramoff to represent them. The full article by Greg Sargent is here, and there are two significant results.

First, Morris compared the contribution patterns of tribes that hired Abramoff to tribes that didn't. The result? Over the past 15 years, non-Abramoff tribes have given 72% of their contributions to Democrats. Conversely, Abramoff's tribes, during the period they were represented by Abramoff, gave 70% of their contributions to Republicans. Since these tribes would almost certainly have given 30% of their contributions to Democrats on their own, this is compelling evidence that Abramoff directed his clients to give the vast bulk of their contributions to the GOP.

Second, Morris looked solely at the tribes that hired Abramoff and compared their contribution patterns before and after they hired him. The figures in the Prospect article are a little unfair in this regard, since the pre-Jack period is generally twice as long as the post-Jack period, so I recalculated their figures based on approximate contribution rates per year.

The chart on the right shows what happened. Before hiring Abramoff, annual contributions to Democrats and Republicans were roughly equal. After hiring Abramoff, contributions went up across the board, but skyrocketed for Republicans. Abramoff not only persuaded his clients to increase their overall giving, but persuaded them to give practically all of the additional money to Republicans.

Here's the bottom line:

If youre going to make the case that this is a bipartisan scandal, you have to really stretch the imagination, says Morris. Most individual tribes were predominantly Democratic givers through the last decade. Only Abramoffs clients switched dramatically from largely Democratic to overwhelmingly Republican donors, and that happened only after he got his hands on them.

There's not much doubt that Abramoff directed his clients to contribute small amounts to certain Democrats. Taken as a whole, though, his direction to his clients was clear: to give more much, much more to Republicans.

POSTSCRIPT: In some sense, it's unfortunate that this has even become an issue. After all, there's nothing wrong with a politician taking a donation from an Indian tribe, regardless of whether it was directed by Abramoff or not. It's only wrong if there's specific evidence of wrongdoing associated with the contribution.

Still, since this has become an issue, it's worth looking at the figures to see what they show. And what they show is no surprise: Jack Abramoff was a Republican lobbyist who directed his clients to give overwhelmingly to Republicans. And they did.

Kevin Drum 2:10 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (64)

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Comments

I love how the blogosphere is all over this. Too bad we will NEVER see what you and so many others have pointed out, regarding the amount of donations, let alone that the whole point of Abramoff and the K-Street project was to funnel money to R's and away from D's in the MSM. Never. Ever.

Posted by: Grotesqueticle on January 28, 2006 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

Has anyone thought to ask a Tribe why they gave to a Demo? Several New Mexic tribes gave to Sen. Bingaman (D). Big whoop, he's been Nm senator for over 20 years, has influence in DC, and they probably have been giving to him for over 20 years. The Indian tribe argument is racist. An Indian tribe cannot even write a check without help from the White Man.

Posted by: lk on January 28, 2006 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

Nice explanation Kevin, I found it better than the Prospect's rundown (although that is quite helpful).

And as you point out the real story is who exchanged illegal favors for donations, not who received donations.

In conjunction with continuing to hammer the point that Abramoff was overwhelmingly involved with Republicans, is to also stress that new agencies need to stop making global comparisons of which party is more "tainted" and stick to the investigations underway (specific donations, specific allegations of illegal doings) and leave the generalizations to the politicians jockeying for votes.

Posted by: Some Guy on January 28, 2006 at 2:20 PM | PERMALINK

lk, what the bleep does that have to do with what this discussion is actually about?

Posted by: Kenji on January 28, 2006 at 2:23 PM | PERMALINK

Let me get this straight.

Republicans, with the President taking the lead, started referring to Abramoff as an EQUAL opportunity giver. He was not. Not by a long shot. The democrats fight back but the story doesnt become about the Republican exageration and distortion of Abramoffs record, it becomes about how the Democrats, while "technically correct," are trying to deflect attention away from other Democrats who ended up with less money from a traditional donation base thanks to Abramaoff and who are not under investigation for anything.

So even in an entirely Republican scandal, driven entirely by Republican wrong doing and suspicion of Republican wrong doing, the Democrats are the ones defending themselves from charges of distorting the record.

It must be that liberal media bias.

Posted by: frameone on January 28, 2006 at 2:24 PM | PERMALINK

There's not much doubt that Abramoff directed his clients to contribute small amounts to certain Democrats.

Sweet Jesus, Kevin, this was a great post, and then you have to go and give comfort to this hoary GOP talking point.

Why is there "not much doubt that Abramoff directed his clients to contribute small amounts to certain Democrats"? Because there's any evidence at all that he has done so -- and if there is, by all means let's have it out in the open -- or simply because the GOP's apologists and propagandists have repeated this assertion sufficiently often that you accept it as a given?

I'd accept a statement like "It may be that Abramoff directed his clients to contribute small amounts to certain Democrats." But from what I can tell, there's considerable doubt indeed that he did so, especially if one isn't inclined to take the word of Republican spin doctors.

Posted by: Gregory on January 28, 2006 at 2:26 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks for doing the legwork on this, Kevin.

Something else strikes me as I read the chart, and it is an undercurrent in the overall Abramoff scandal. While it is obvious that he encouraged these clients to give a much greater proportion of their money to Republicans than they had previously, he also just got them to vastly increase their amount of giving.

Josh Marshall has (convincingly) made the point that what Abramoff ran was less a lobbying effort (you give me money so I can influence Congress Critter X to do things that are good for you) than a vast slush fund for expanding one-party rule and enriching individuals who supported the system (Duke Cunningscam's "Living large, free of charge" racket, for example).

What this reseach does is demonstrate how Abramoff was pumping cash into the system at an enormous rate. What I would also like to see is how the giving by the tribal groups compares to the giving by other organizations and businesses. With all due respect, $620K+ (the amount of Repub + Democrat giving from above) ain't a very large chunk of change in the greater unfolding of influence peddling.

The exclusive focus on Native American giving *is* racist, frankly. These can't be Abramoff's only customers. What other donations does he direct, and how do they stack up?

fercryinoutloud

Posted by: Fercryinoutloud on January 28, 2006 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

I still think the most emblematic example of this was Patrick Kennedy from Rhode Island--people were asking him if he was going to give back money donated by indian tribes, since it was by definition dirty Abrahamoff money.

The Kennedys as a family have been huge supporters of Native American rights from the 60's to today. More specifically, Patrick Kennedy founded the House's Native American Caucus!

The argument that Patrick Kennedy was by definition part of the Abrahamoff criminal gang because he got money from Indians simply boggles the mind. I know it's may sound kind of crazy, but bear with me here--maybe Indians were giving money to the Congressman who founded the Native American Caucus AS WELL AS Abrahamoff's crooked guys as directed by Abrahamoff.

Posted by: theorajones on January 28, 2006 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

I am sorta stuck. This information and more like it is why I don't want Alito filbustered.

There is a tail to tell about the arrogance, corruption, and incompence of the Republicans. A tail that will be quashed by a filibuster, and to no good end.

Does that make me a wimpy Democrat?

Posted by: Keith G on January 28, 2006 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK

If anyone is still confused, here's a little graphic that may make things a bit clearer.

Posted by: rc on January 28, 2006 at 2:43 PM | PERMALINK

Keith:

Yes.

Posted by: chuck on January 28, 2006 at 2:57 PM | PERMALINK

Remeber folks, it is "George Bush Pioneer Jack Abramoff." Never say the name without reminding us what a hero George Bush Pioneer Jack Abramoff is to those of us in the Republican Party.

Posted by: rdw on January 28, 2006 at 2:59 PM | PERMALINK

Gregory: I agree. Great post by Kevin, except for that one tiny thing. One thought comes to mind: Even if Abramoff had directed small amounts to Democrats (which he may not have), its irrelevant and distracts from what the whole story is about, i.e., the slush fund Abramoff created explicitly for Republican use. Democrats should do nothing to distract from that truth.

Also, I cannot understand why the question is not framed in this manner to Bush and all Republicans. The question is this: Mr. President, why in the world would you insinuate that Abramoff was anything other than a Republican operative who was in the business of buying influence and funding Republican causes and candidates.

There is no reason for anybody, including the MSM, to pretend for a second that Abramoff money went to Democrats.

Posted by: little ole jim from red country on January 28, 2006 at 3:03 PM | PERMALINK

This is a BRIBERY scandal, NOT a lobbying scandal.

We all have to call it what it is, a BRIBERY scandal.

I believe that ALL contributions by tribes or defense contractors or farm lobbies, whatever, are ALL wrong and that the only way to make congress do what is good for the citizens of America is to have fully publicly finaced campaigns.

Anyone who argues that DEMS took tribe money is really saying that taking contributions from anyone is wrong, and they are right, in my view.

Posted by: lilybart on January 28, 2006 at 3:10 PM | PERMALINK

Did anyone else notice the Prickly City comic strip on Thursday?

http://www.ucomics.com/pricklycity/2006/01/26/

It seems bizarre that someone could print such a baldfaced lie. Truth seems to have no meaning these days.

Is there any effective way to respond to a comic strip?

Posted by: Oregonian on January 28, 2006 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK

Gregory, thanks, good point.

BUT maybe Abramoff DID direct them to keep giving some money to DEMS so it wouldn't smell too awful?

Posted by: lilybart on January 28, 2006 at 3:12 PM | PERMALINK

Kenji -
I apologize. You must be very busy commenting on every comment you don't understand. Sorry to add to your burden.

Posted by: lk on January 28, 2006 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

Greg/Jim: Here's the problem. There's just too much evidence that Abramoff directed some contributions toward Democrats. The numbers are small, and there's no evidence that Dems did anything wrong taking the money. However, if we go around yelling that Abramoff never directed one red cent to Dems, we lose all credibility. It's just not true.

I realize it makes our narrative a little harder, but that's life. If we want to make a difference, we have to stick with the truth.

Posted by: Kevin Drum on January 28, 2006 at 3:16 PM | PERMALINK

Keith ... "to no good end" ... I assume that does not include Democrats actually standing up for principle and against abuse of power (and those who would further it), showing the President that the Dems won't just lay down and die over and over again?

Or, the respect this will bring to the grass roots, while the more moderate wing might realize that after a show of principle, Alito will likely be confirmed anyway? And, in the process, heck, maybe one or two centrist Republicans will hear it from their consistuents.

While they filibuster, they can point to this scandal as proof why we cannot trust the President's claim of broad power as well as even (if they care to) note the importance of national campaign finance legislation that the conservatives on the Court tend to find unconstitutional.

They after all will have to talk a lot, right? But, apparently, the fear will be that like a stupid bimbo, the nation will be blinded by the Democrats and not be able to walk and chew gum at the same time, see more than one thing.

Don't worry, this will lead to increases in the poll. The spin by major newsmakers that "there is problems on both sides" will be ignored, and the Dems laying down to die on a key constitutional moment involving a swing vote on the U.S. Supreme Court will be ignored along with all the other slavish actions they have made.

IOTW, "yes."

Posted by: Joe on January 28, 2006 at 3:19 PM | PERMALINK

Chuck, thanks for that shot of self-esteem.

Posted by: Keith G on January 28, 2006 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

Even though Kevin is completely right here about Abramoff, the media has something of a point- everyone in Washington is somewhat corrupt because everybody has to fund-raise from all of these various interest groups. I found it very disturbing that when I was asked what Abramoff actually did wrong, it was difficult to spell out how it's different from what every other lobbyist on the hill does.

To be sure, the Republican's are even more in the thrall of their campaign contributors than Democrats, but the long-term fix here is't to get the GOP out of power (although that would surely help), it's to fix our inherently corrupt campaign fund-raising system.

Posted by: Don Zeko on January 28, 2006 at 3:27 PM | PERMALINK

Why is the WP declaring war on us? We're on their side. We, too, see print as the last bastion of journalism, which is why we're fighting so hard for them to print the truth in the Abramoff matter.

Where they have chosen to take a stand is just beyond comprehension. The right does everything to undermine journalism's legitimacy, so they rename Froomkin's column? They draw a line in the sand insisting Abramoff is bipartisan? This is how they demonstrate print's relevance?

Unlike the right, we believe in the importance of good journalism and want it to succeed. Stand up for truth instead of GOP narratives, and we'll stand behind you. Declare war on the blogs for demanding accuracy and accountability, and they have no one to blame for their demise but themselves.

Posted by: Memekiller on January 28, 2006 at 3:28 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin: I hear you, and my quibble is just a quibble. To me it's a question of emphasis and what the story is really about. To me, the story is most definitely not about Democrats being less guilty than Republicans as it relates to Abramoff influencing buying. Democrats are not guilty at all here because the guilt is the quid pro quo, not some small amount of money he may have directed to Democrats.

Abramoff was a Super Republican Operative who overwhelmingly did business with Republicans. Its a Republican scandal through and through.

Posted by: little ole jim from red country on January 28, 2006 at 3:34 PM | PERMALINK

Agree completely with Kieth. Alito is a done deal and an F just takes the GOP corruption story off the news for a coupla weeks. Believe me, the GOP PR people are praying for an F of Scalito. The GOP noise machine is currently on the defensive with Abramoff. A democratic F, will move them back to the attack where they are more comfortable, while Abramoff looses its legs.

Its not a matter of being dem pussies, its about where we want to keep the pressure on the GOP. TFFA says, keep the pressure where they are must vulnerable, corruption (Abramoff, Duke, Delay) and incompetence (Katrina-Iraq-drug coverage).

And of course, the TFFA mantra, the dems need to get tougher on terrorism and NS!!

Posted by: the fake fake Al on January 28, 2006 at 3:35 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks for the PS, Kevin. It would be nice if the media focused on what exactly Abramoff did that was illegal. That's the scandal. See who benefited from his illegal shenanigans and you'll not find one Democrat.

Posted by: KC on January 28, 2006 at 3:37 PM | PERMALINK

When did Jackoff direct money to Dems? While they were in control of the Senate & thus to Committee Chairs?

I agree, too, this is a BRIBERY scandal and not a lobbying scandal.

It is also a FRAUD scandal, as Jackoff was taking money on false pretenses.

It is also an ABUSE scandal, since Jackoff took advantage of the tribes' lobbying naivete. At least I've heard of no other explanation of why they gave him so much more than, for example, the pharmaceutical industry gives its lobbyists for exceptionally good results.

Posted by: Cal Gal on January 28, 2006 at 3:40 PM | PERMALINK

Those wealthy from their sinecures in the media business will not willingly allow Republicans to be held accountable for what Republicans have done.

The reason are many.

Those wealthy from their sinecures in the media business, if power shifts, immediately change their positions in order to resecure their sinecures.

The reasons are one.

The bottom line is, as usual a winning hand is being blown by fools who don't even know how to play a winning hand. Get the Republicans caught red hand and still struggle to make a case. Time to hire Marica Clark, to go along with Bob Shrum, and keep that perfect record intact. Maybe Gore will give a speech, after Hilary plays hide the pea.

Posted by: razor on January 28, 2006 at 3:40 PM | PERMALINK

KC: Agreed. And in fairness, Susan Schmidt has been pretty clear about that, even if Howell screwed up. She's said pretty plainly that every instance of illegal activity that they've uncovered has been related to Republicans. Dems are in the clear.

Posted by: Kevin Drum on January 28, 2006 at 3:41 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin,
I think Dean has the answer to this. When someone says, "Didn't Abramoff give money to Dems?" Say, "Nope." They hem, they haw, then they something like, "Well, so and so reported that so and so was on such and such a list." Then you say, "No, those were tribes who gave money to Dems and they had given money before. They hem, they haw, and say, "But didn't Abramoff direct them to, blah, blah, blah," and you say, "Nope. They had given money to Dems before. The amounts went down. The tribes Abramoff represented greatly increased the amount going to Republicans."

You see the difference here? We don't offer the caveates. We give clear, simple and precise answers, and force the journalist who has done no research on this topic beyond reading the press packet they were handed to do the rhetorical gymnastics. We should be clear and unquivocal, and knock down each of these points as they come up. Why muddy the argument?

Posted by: Memekiller on January 28, 2006 at 3:41 PM | PERMALINK

So what did the tribes hire Abramoff for, if not for exactly the sort of partisan access and influence he was getting paid for? Do you really think the tribes brought him on board out of the purest motives? They're pissed because he ripped them off, not because he was peddling their wares to the Republicans.

Some of this is like listening to people who hired a mob hit man and then complain later because he shot somebody.

Posted by: tbrosz on January 28, 2006 at 3:48 PM | PERMALINK

Joe- understand your arguement for a principled stand on Alito. But imagine next week. Alito confirmed, Prez gives SCOTUS, then back to the pressure about Abramoff, NSA, Iran, Medicare, and maybe Plame will come up too. OR Next week's headlines, DEMs Filibutster, Dems obstructionist, Dems don't want a strong America bla, bla, bla. All media outlets will roll with an F story for at least a week culiminating in the Sunday talk shows following suit. And the result, Alito will still be on the court, while Abramoff and NSA wire taps are distant memories.

Keep Abramoff/NSA in the media. Forget, regardless of how terrible it might be, about Alito.

Next week, I want to see talking heads contrasting the SCOTUS with NSA/Abramoff problems.

Remember who wins in Julius Caesar? Not Brutus, but Antony.

Posted by: the fake fake Al on January 28, 2006 at 3:48 PM | PERMALINK

tbrosz,
Of course the tribes hired Abramoff for access. What was illegal is that Abramoff didn't represent the tribes interests, but defrauded them of their money to further the Republican Party's interests instead of their own.

It's more like hiring an accountant to do your finances, and they bilk you out of your life savings and shoot your mother.

Posted by: Memekiller on January 28, 2006 at 3:51 PM | PERMALINK

Memekiller: I agree, don't muddy the water because the Dems are facing a ferocious propaganda war, as usual.

As I re-read Kevin's post, it's really good and I have no objection to anything he says. Even when he mentions evidence that Abramoff likely included a few Democrats on the lists he submitted to the Tribes, Keven puts it in the proper context, and really, that's fine for this blog. Abramoff may have included Dems on his lists simply because he felt he had to do so to maintain credibility with the Tribes.

But I like your point. As a talking point, Dems should absolutely dispute that Abramoff gave money to Dems. A few token recommended contributions by tribal clients is nothing.

Posted by: little ole jim from red country on January 28, 2006 at 4:12 PM | PERMALINK

There's just too much evidence that Abramoff directed some contributions toward Democrats.

Again, Kevin, I have to say, what evidence? The Post -- which has scant credibility on this issue now, thanks to Howell -- leads off by saying:

Abramoff also built links with the other party, as most lobbyists do. He hired a few Democrats onto his lobbying staff. He turned over his sports stadium boxes to some Democrats to use for fundraising events.

...none of which is relevant to "directing contributions." It then goes on:

Representatives of tribes including the Saginaw Chippewas, the Tiguas of El Paso and the Agua Caliente Band testified in Congress that Abramoff told them how much to give to specific lawmakers and party committees. The lists he sent to the Indian tribes included some Democrats and Democratic party groups

But is, as you make a persuasive case for, Abramoff was directing his clients to direct less money toward Democrats -- as in, "I don't want to see Democrat Smith get more than $2000" -- that hardly counts as directing them to make the contributions.

However, if we go around yelling that Abramoff never directed one red cent to Dems, we lose all credibility. It's just not true.

Shame on you for that strawman, Kevin. I said no such thing, and neither did lil ole jim. I said that your statement that "There's not much doubt" gives far too much comfort to this misleading GOP talking point. I said the wording "it may be that yadda yadda yadda" would be a much better phrasing without asserting that he directed no contributions at all. In my opinion, someone who makes the assertion that you did -- an assertion that I maintain is not necessarily true at all -- and then misrepresents his critics' calling him on it, has little room to huff "It's just not true." I admire you, Kevin, and so I expect better of you than this.

BUT maybe Abramoff DID direct them to keep giving some money to DEMS so it wouldn't smell too awful?

Maybe he did; who knows exactly what he directed or why. The Post claims to know, but isn't being specific enough to salvage their credibility from the Howell debacle.

My point is that Abramoff directing his clients to give less money to Democrats != Abramoff directing his clients to give money to Democtrats. No one's saying he didn't do it at all, simply that there's considerable doubt that any Democrats were on his gravy train, and Kevin's assertion lends aid and comfort to the GOP talking point that it does not deserve -- a point I beleive Kevin concedes with his feeble, straw man defense.

Posted by: Gregory on January 28, 2006 at 4:42 PM | PERMALINK

what the dem friendly pundits don't understand is that there is no need for them to point to the fact that dems received some money from indians at the direction of jackoff, even if it is true. There are plenty of Republicans who will drive home the point anyway. Just say that Abramoff's main goal was to funnel most of the money to Republicans, and he did just that.

The political marketplace is neither a confessional before a priest nor a trial before God where, if you do not tell the whole truth, you will be condemned to hell. It's a game where you have to emphasize your strengths and the opponents' weaknesses. So by definition, the opponent will definitely point out your weaknesses, and you do not get any extra brownie points for doing it yourself. You actually defeat your own pursuit of sucess as you look like a wuss if you do that.

Posted by: lib on January 28, 2006 at 4:47 PM | PERMALINK

"Some of this is like listening to people who hired a mob hit man and then complain later because he shot somebody." ~tbrosz

Yes, t, and you are one of those complaining people. Too bad you picked the Republicans, but you did.

Posted by: Ace Franze on January 28, 2006 at 4:52 PM | PERMALINK

A liberal has to go on a show like Hardball to show how Republicans gained much more from Abramoff than did the Democrats. The problem is that Chris Matthews would actually have to invite a liberal on his show and that proposition seems pretty remote.

Posted by: Erroll on January 28, 2006 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK

"Some of this is like listening to people who hired a mob hit man and then complain later because he shot somebody." ~tbrosz

Yes, t, and you are one of those complaining people. Too bad you picked the Republicans, but you did.

Posted by: Ace Franze on January 28, 2006 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK

errol

Actually Obama did go on MTP last week, but he waqs a wuss, muddying the waters by agreeing with Russert that money in Washington is a bipartisan problem, and not telling him that the problem hand is the Jackoff scandal which was wholly owned and operated by Repubs.

It's as if during the Clinton impeachment, John McCain went on Hardball and agreed with Chris Mathews that extramarital sex between politicans aged fifty or more and nubile 20 year olds is a bipartisan problem.

Posted by: lib on January 28, 2006 at 5:00 PM | PERMALINK

if I've learned anything from the rethugs, it's to fight like a mad, crazy bitch when the other side is down. Kick these fuckers in the nuts ... and keep it simple for the sheeple who are proud of their inability to appreciate nuance.

The monkeys in the media find our positions too complicated ... fine.

The message is hereby simplified to abramoff gave 100% of his money to repubs, he is a repub, has always been a repub, and possibly felated gwb in the oral office. It's just that fucking simple ... now stay on target.

Posted by: Nads on January 28, 2006 at 5:05 PM | PERMALINK

Usually the tbrosz posts have some point, right or wrong, mostly the latter.

his post above is neither right nor wrong.

Posted by: nut on January 28, 2006 at 5:17 PM | PERMALINK

So what did the tribes hire Abramoff for, if not for exactly the sort of partisan access and influence he was getting paid for? Do you really think the tribes brought him on board out of the purest motives?

Where would tbrosz be if not for straw men arguments?

Regardless of what the tribes hired Abramoff for, Abramoff is facing charges of bribery, fraud and influence peddling. No Democrats are facing charges related to Abramoff's racket at this time. That's the distinction you seekto obscure, tbrosz: That the tribes wanted to gain influence through a lobbyist, but Abramoff used his position as a lobbyist to indulge in a massive bribery conspiracy with members of your Republican Party. Shame on you for carrying water for these crooks.

Posted by: Gregory on January 28, 2006 at 5:19 PM | PERMALINK

respecting non-Al's comments such as "Forget, regardless of how terrible it might be, about Alito."

I don't see the value of this. The assumption seems to be that Abramoff will go away if the filibuster story is in the news. I noted btw that Abramoff is arguably part of the filibuster story (perils of united power, trusting current leadership, etc) while easily can be talked about as it goes on. Filibusters are about talking, right?

Second, let us put aside that priviso, though I dare say it notable. The filibuster can bring net gains. Signs of unity and support of principle while discussing all the abuses Bush etc. has been involved in seems to be useful to the Dems. They too will have a voice, no matter how much the "silly quoxitic loser" meme is put out by some. And, it will have value in the future, including grassroots and so forth.

Finally, will Abramoff really never return? Consider one matter: the nomination of someone involved in the case to a federal judgeship. A judicial nomination issue. Second, there are any number of ongoing investigations that will not simply disappear. The election cycle will raise many of these issues up again as well. Dirt is good press.

Of course, there is the idea that a firm opposition, even in a losing battle, against a key judicial nomination is important on its own. Going out fighting is a way to lose the battle, but win the war. I also note, again, Abramoff standing alone still is not a major concern of many people. Many still think it is in effect bipartisan or business as usual.

This single shot policy is really ill advised.

Posted by: Joe on January 28, 2006 at 5:21 PM | PERMALINK

WELL, USING THIS LOGIC, THE TRIBES WOULD HAVE GIVEN THEIR CONTRIBUTIONS TO REPUBLICANS ANYWAY!!!


ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS LOOK AT THE TREND, MORE REPUBLICANS BEING ELECTED, TAKING OVER THE HOUSE, THE SENATE, THE PRESIDENCY, OF COURSE THE TRIBES WANTED TO HAVE THEIR GREIVANCES HEARD SO THAT MEANT CONTRIBUTING TO THOSE IN POSWER, AND NOW REPUBLICANS ARE IN POWER, THEREFORE

WETHER ABRAMOFF EXISTED OR NOT, MORE TRIBE MONEY WOULD HAVE GONE TO REPUBLICANS. IN FACT, THE DEMOCRATS PROBABLY WOULD HAVE GOTTEN NO TRIBE MONEY, SINCE THEY ARE COMPLETELY AND UTTERLY POWERLESS NOWADAY, BUT FOR ABRAMOFF DIRECTING THE TRIBES TO THROWN THEM A BONE(R) OR TWO.

Posted by: Patton on January 28, 2006 at 5:33 PM | PERMALINK

also, as to Julius Caesar, I believe the ultimate winner was Octavious. Anthony poisoned himself or something with his gal pal.

Shakespeare also was not really a one trick pony either ... he managed to talk about more than one thing at once. If the judiciary is not somehow intimately involved with current affairs, including abuse of power and limited gov't, what the heck is? Surely is for the NSA issue.

I reckon talking tough but mentioning that this does not involve violating civil liberties is what the Democrats allegedly stand for, right?

But, we lost Alito, so goes the reasoning. The Democrats are a minority party. We will be fighting rear guard actions all the time. That doesn't really fly.

Corruption is nice and all, but it only goes so far. Or, we will have cleaner Republican challengers, promising that like Newt et. al. that they heard the people ... they will change now. Times are different. blah blah blah.

And, finally, the people overall probably -- rightly or not, okay -- think Dems are far from clean. The token reform policy offered by the Dems did not really help. Again, no one trick ponys here.

Posted by: Joe on January 28, 2006 at 5:33 PM | PERMALINK

While you are screaming, please ignore how Abramoff -- the head of the HR favorite guy -- screwed over the tribes big time while CC guy Reed cynically used gambling dollars even though the Christian Coalition is strongly against the practice. Anyway, non sequitur since Kevin is just addressing a claim made.

This is easier when you rant.

Posted by: Joe on January 28, 2006 at 5:36 PM | PERMALINK

"In some sense, it's unfortunate that this has even become an issue. After all, there's nothing wrong with a politician taking a donation from an Indian tribe, regardless of whether it was directed by Abramoff or not. It's only wrong if there's specific evidence of wrongdoing associated with the contribution."

True, but the Republican spin machine sure has been working overtime to convince the world that Democrats were also on the take. They must be feeling guilty about something, right?

It is also worth noting that all the examples of clearly illegal giving are towards Republicans.

Posted by: HungChad on January 28, 2006 at 5:40 PM | PERMALINK

Why can't some reporter pick up a phone and ask the various Tribes whether Abramoff told them to do something, and if so, did they follow his advice?

Posted by: ESaund on January 28, 2006 at 5:51 PM | PERMALINK

ESaund,
The Washington Post has ALREADY reported, and Kevin Drum knows that:
"""Moreover, the campaign contributions that Abramoff directed from the tribes went to Democratic as well as Republican legislators.""""

Your answer is YES, YES, YES...but Kevin doesn't want you to know this little tidbit because it blows his whole story line.

Posted by: Patton on January 28, 2006 at 5:59 PM | PERMALINK

The question is, were Democrats involved in any of George Bush Pioneer Jack Abramoff's illegal activities. The answer is, sadly, no. Otherwise I could be ranting here about how the Democrats are just as dirty.

Posted by: rdw on January 28, 2006 at 6:18 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, Morris, you're not allowed to use facts! It's not fair! Facts mess up the message being pushed by the WaPo and other media enablers of the RepubliCAN'T political elite. They can't stay on message if you keep pushing facts in front of them. It's just not fair, you know.

Posted by: Taobhan on January 28, 2006 at 6:19 PM | PERMALINK

Excellent, it's helpful to have hard numbers for what would seem to the most obvious observation.

Editors of newspapers and TV news who touted the bipartisan scandal claim, at least as far as the Abramoff scandal, should all be fired for not being able to make obvious observations.

Indeed, that seems to smack of some kind of corruption or nefarious influence too (i.e. another scandal...not so obvious).

Posted by: Jimm on January 28, 2006 at 6:20 PM | PERMALINK

The impotence of the democrats on full display during this sordid epidsode would be hilarious if it were not so pathetic.

Imagine the reverse scenario. If a Democratic lobbyist had been caught doing the same things, the unified noise from the right would have removed the word 'bipartisan' from the dictionary by now.

But here we are, with dems and their supporters confessing needlessly, yeah we killed a person too but he was not quite dead, but the republicans, by golly, sure killed the man.

Pathetic indeed.

Posted by: lib on January 28, 2006 at 6:50 PM | PERMALINK

It's hilarious to see Republicans and their lackeys at the WaPo try to smear Dems with this Abramoff stuff all the while diverting attention from HOW he ripped off these tribes.

Also interesting is how the whole Saipan connection hasn't yet hit the fan.

But it will. Can't wait to see how tbrosz spins that one.

Posted by: mercury on January 28, 2006 at 6:50 PM | PERMALINK

ESaund said - "Why can't some reporter pick up a phone and ask the various Tribes whether Abramoff told them to do something, and if so, did they follow his advice?" Exactly. The Indians are being treated like they cannot speak for themselves. Ask them the questions. Did Jack-Off direct you to pay money to Demos? Pretty easy question.

Posted by: lk on January 28, 2006 at 7:35 PM | PERMALINK

As to the Prickly City cartoon about the dems being involved. You can email the author Scott Stantis at pricklycity@gmail.com. Other people have also suggested writing to your local paper if it carries that cartoon.

Posted by: Betty on January 28, 2006 at 8:34 PM | PERMALINK

To those who claim that Abramoff "directed" money to democrats, consider the following:

If I contribute $1000 to $2000 each year to politician X and my new friend Jack recommends that I reduce future annual contributions to $300, and this year I only donate $250 to X, did Jack "direct" this year's contribution to X?

I don't think so--unless I'm a WAPO editor.

Posted by: John on January 28, 2006 at 10:49 PM | PERMALINK

It's not the Indians, or the casinos, or the political graft: IT'S THE FAKE CHARITIES that's going to send folks to jail.

Posted by: Brian Boru on January 29, 2006 at 1:44 AM | PERMALINK

"There's not much doubt that Abramoff directed his clients to contribute small amounts to certain Democrats."

I clicked through those links, and they don't seem to implicate "certain" democrats at all, but rather just one in particular (Dorgan), and on rather specious grounds at that.

Geez, if there's any point in time to show some solidarity...this is the easy fight. When did you turn into Katie Couric?

Posted by: nova silverpill on January 29, 2006 at 1:46 AM | PERMALINK

I agree with Brian Boru. I think the really smelly aspect of this scandal are the fake charities that Abramoff used to launder the tribal monies.

I think the Dems' hands are entirely clean on that one, too.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 29, 2006 at 11:35 AM | PERMALINK

Bill and Hillary Clinton sold pardons to fugitives for contributions from those same fugitives. Please, this pales in comparison.

TOH

Posted by: The Objective Historian on January 29, 2006 at 11:48 AM | PERMALINK

The Objective Historian:

CLINTON CLINTON CLINTON!!! NOTHING MATTERS ANYMORE CAUSE CLINTON WAS A BAAAAD MAN!!!!!!! CLINTON!!!!! LOOK, A PUPPY!!!!

Posted by: DiscoStu on January 29, 2006 at 8:14 PM | PERMALINK

Let me add my huzzahs to those above who have stressed making the simple argument. We don't earn any brownie points from some mythical debate coach for conceding that some Dems may have gotten contributions from tribes, but... blah blah blah.

We just blunt our message that way. Let the other guys make the weak semantic argument while we hammer them with Abramoff=Repub=crook

Posted by: Chris Thorpe on January 29, 2006 at 10:27 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

Why doesn't the headline include an unabiguous, NOT!

The heading, "Bipartisan scandal?" implicitly accepts that it might be a bipartisan scandal. Why are you accepting and (by not immediately correcting) furthering the GOP disinformation that it might be a bipartisan scandal?

Posted by: anonymous but still right on January 29, 2006 at 11:42 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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