Paying to Play And Paying The Price
The Daily News has obtained an exclusive photo of President George W. Bush shaking hands with Isaac Toussie's father;1 the photo had been taken earlier this year. According to Daily News political correspondent Celeste Katz, it was not immediately clear whether the photo was snapped before or after Toussie's father made his April contribution of $28,500 to the Republican National Convention.
The timing of the picture -- both the appearance of it now, as well as whether it was taken before or after the hefty contribution -- could significantly add to the potential controversies that the Bush Administration and the Republican party have to worry about, particularly with regard to Bush's legacy.
Hypocrisy, thy name is GOP
The policy and procedures for "pay to play" and "cash for access" have, apparently, been typical of the GOP standard operating procedure for quite some time, particularly during the Bush years. It's not new news. There's definitely a "there" there, and it's becoming clearly defined.
From Time Magazine's 2006 article When George Met Jack,
In one shot that TIME saw, Bush appears with Abramoff, several unidentified people and Raul Garza Sr., a Texan Abramoff represented who was then chairman of the Kickapoo Indians, which owned a casino in southern Texas. Garza, who is wearing jeans and a bolo tie in the picture, told TIME that Bush greeted him as "Jefe," or "chief" in Spanish.
Most of the pictures have the formal look of photos taken at presidential receptions. The images of Bush, Abramoff and one of his sons appear to be the rapid-fire shots--known in White House parlance as clicks-- that the President snaps with top supporters before taking the podium at fund-raising receptions.
That was in 2006. In July of this year, The Sunday Times of London ran a couple of pieces that that looked at another Abramoff-like lobbyist who also embroiled the Bush White House in the GOP 'pay for play' / 'cash for access' SOP:
- President George W Bush lobbyist in 'cash for access' row, by Daniel Foggo of the Sunday Times
- Stephen Payne: a hotshot lobbyist who can get you into White House, by Daniel Foggo and Steven Swinford of the Sunday Times
From Truthdig comes a piece called Pay to Play with Jack, excerpted below:
The list of charges and accusations is long enough to warrant a website devoted just to observing Abramoff’s complicated dealings. The most recent scandal involving Abramoff broke on Nov. 9, 2005, when Philip Shenon reported for The New York Times that President Bush’s meeting with Omar Bongo of Gabon (accused by the United States of human rights abuses) on May 26, 2004, was directly linked to a $9-million fee collected by GrassRoots Interactive, a Maryland lobbying firm that Abramoff’s former colleagues say he controlled.
There's an even more in-depth article out there -- Robert Scheer's piece on Truthdig: Jack Abramoff’s 'Cesspool of Corruption' Check it out. Truthdig, of course, wasn't the last of the sources to dig up evidence of organized, ongoing corruption. TalkingPointsMemo had an interesting piece tying together Tom DeLay, Jack Abramoff and Bob Schaffer in part of the cesspool of corruption that GOP fomented and fought tooth and nail to protect: The Northern Marianas mess. Below is a screen cap from part of the TPM article:
All this corruption -- and all the exposure -- hasn't gone unnoticed. In order to try and divert attention from the true depth and breadth of how far this criminal behaviour extends, the Republicans are coming out in force to ignore their own issues and try to manufacture scandals about the incoming President-elect. From a piece by Bob Cesca on the Huffington Post:
It began yesterday with the RNC demanding to know the full extent of the president-elect's relationship with Blagojevich even though Patrick Fitzgerald was perfectly clear about the relationship when he said on national television that the president-elect had nothing to do with any of it. But to suggest that the former junior senator from Illinois never communicated with the governor of Illinois is ridiculous on its face -- of course there was the usual level of professional communication there, though it entirely fails to prove or even implicate any corruption on the part of Barack Obama. Then again, since when does reality matter?
Meanwhile, the Politico and numerous other news organizations have been attempting to make this the first "scandal" of the Obama presidency as if Blagojevich is somehow a member of the transition or an appointee to the future administration. The truth is Obama never endorsed Blagojevich and Blagojevich never endorsed Obama. Unless you consider Blagojevich's obnoxious "fuck him" remark to be an endorsement, that is.
Unfortunately for their efforts, they aren't gaining much traction. The nation has grown tired of the divisive politics and the policies of fear and smear. Their efforts now evoke emotion ranging from sad realizations of their impending exposure to outright ridicule at their hypocrisy. For example, in this corner, from Tennesseefree:
OK in comparison, let’s look and see how Republicans handle alleged contact with a felon:
So, how do the Republicans handle this? They "lose" millions of emails and try to withhold White House visitor logs.
And what does our "honest Christian Commander in Chief" say about his contact with Abramoff? Abramoff - the guy Bush met several times and asked about his family, Abramoff - the guy who raised hundreds of thousands for him, Abramoff - the guy who Bush invited to his Crawford ranch, Abramoff - the guy who had over 400 contacts with the White House?
G.W. Bush says about Jack Abramoff: "I don’t know him."
Image is via Tenneseefree, originally sourced from MSNBC Media on MSN.
That's one helluva powerful, potent way to point out the blatant lies of the GOP horde.
The whole Republican money-making machine appears to have been in place and functioning before the 2000 inauguration of George W. Bush; the Bush years, combined with six years of total GOP control of all three branches of government and two years of strong minority obstruction in Congress, brought the corruption to new levels. It has, hopefully, passed its pinnacle -- we've now seen what nearly 12 years of 'conservative' Republican governance looks like, and the resulting mess could take decades to clean up.
With luck, we'll have the help of a refocused media, citizen journalists and a public that has outgrown the pithy foot-stamping temper tantrums of the right-wing nutjobs and Republican propaganda monster to help us make it through.
1 Hat-tip to nonnie9999 of DailyKos who pointed out in comments that Bush is shaking hands with Isaac's father, the one who made the contribution, and not Isaac, who was wearing a lovely orange one-piece at the time...