Protections From Washington’s ‘Ethical Undertow’

The House Government Reform Committee, an ironic choice of
title for a standing committee of the House of Representatives,
published a report. Good enough, that’s what committees are supposed to
do in lieu of actually accomplishing anything.

The House Government Reform Committee, an ironic choice of
title for a standing committee of the House of Representatives,
published a report. Good enough, that’s what committees are supposed to
do in lieu of actually accomplishing anything.
Reports are the standard quid pro quo between political pressure for
action and the steadfast intention not to act. Certainly government as
we know it today steadfastly intends damned little change and ‘reform’
is the damndest of those.
Reptomdavis_1
But anyway, they nudged out a 93 page ‘jointly issued’ composition—which means it has the bi-partisan agreement
not to act, instead of the usual partisan one. Thomas M. Davis III, a
Republican from Virginia, held up one side of the sagging banner
denying Jack Abramoff’s payoff clout, while the Democratic side bore
the unembarrassed support of California’s Henry Waxman.
Rephenrywaxman
According to OpenSecrets.org,

“The
House Government Reform and Oversight Committee is Congress’s personal
private eye, investigating the federal government’s activities
including the Justice Department. The committee got off to a quick
start in the 107th Congress with its investigation of President
Clinton’s last-minute pardons.”

So much for
quick starts. Two Congresses later, the 109th has reluctantly taken up
Jack Abramoff’s influence on the lawmaking business. Although Jack is
nothing more than a felon seller of influence, he’s the current
high-profile harbinger of the actual depth of Congressional muck.
Tag-team reformers Davis and Waxman concluded that the current
reporting requirements

“failed to protect public
officials from the ethical undertow generated by Abramoff’s claims of
access to executive branch deliberations, particularly at the White
House.”

Failed to protect instead of failed to indict.
Repbobney2
An incredibly unperceptive statement, but now I finally understand why Representatives Bob Ney, William Jefferson and Duke Cunningham sold out their constituencies. It wasn’t in the least their fault. The legislative waters in which they swam were just too rough, the waves too high and, ‘unprotected’ as they were, ethical undertows pulled the poor innocents under.
They and the scores of others implicated and (as yet) unindicted don’t need a trip to the woodshed or instruction in ethics—they need a lifeguard.
Davis III and Waxman are each from states with ocean frontage and they
know the dangers of undertow are second only to swimming too quickly
after a lobbyist lunch.
Jackabramoff2
Abramoff and his team—specifically his former secretary, who became Karl Rove’s executive assistant—purportedly lobbied White House officials on matters affecting their Indian tribal clients.
But Washington is, if anything, a tribal city. There are the
warlord committee chairmen, the faux military leadership of majorities
and minorities, generalissimo speakers of both House and Senate,
guerrilla opposition leaders, commanders among presidential hopefuls
and the confused, but ever obedient newly elected foot soldiers.
The metaphor of Abramoff’s downfall within his tribal representation is particularly informative.
Tribal cultures trust only themselves during battle, carry off their
dead to mask losses, coalesce behind a new leader should their
chieftain fall and beat the drum loudest when under threat. Up to now,
I’ve not heard of the widespread use of lifeguards among tribes. That’s
a new one. But hey, Washington is, if nothing else, innovative.
To a greater and greater degree, it is indeed nothing else.
Danaperino
So, the White House beating of drums in this particular case—as opposed
to drums trying to drown out the debacle in Iraq, constitutional
wreckage and other messes on the Oval Office rug—comes from spokeswoman
(and Ann Coulter lookalike), Dana Perino;

“The
only thing this report demonstrates is what a lot of us already know:
Jack Abramoff had a penchant for exaggerating and charging his clients
for minor contacts with government officials.” 

Bushsusanralston
Which would have at least a slight ring of truth, were it not for the
fact that Jack Abramoff had a direct pipeline into Karl Rove’s office
in the form of Susan Ralston, aforesaid executive assistant to Karl.
A direct and cozy line to Karl, whose phone calls are always picked
up, is a wonderment to have, the envy of K-Street and a fine feathered
arrow in the tribal quiver.
Susan is currently not taking calls.
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Some other interesting media comment;

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