Sunday, April 17, 2005
Frank Rich On DeLay, Frist, And The Religio-Racist Wing Of The GOP
Two K Street fixers, a lobbyist named Jack Abramoff and a flack named Michael Scanlon, managed to snooker six American Indian tribes into handing over $82 million in exchange for furthering their casino interests. According to The Washington Post, some of their tribal takings, cycled through a nonprofit center for "public policy research," helped send Mr. DeLay golfing in Scotland. The pious congressman, a gambling foe, says he had no idea of his trip's sinful provenance. Never mind that Mr. DeLay was joined abroad by Mr. Abramoff, whom he has described as one of his "closest and dearest friends," or that Mr. Scanlon had once been his spokesman. Mr. DeLay was as innocent of the goings-on around him as a piano player in a brothel.Bam bam bam. Note how Rich concisely lays out the connections here. But it gets better. Rich shows :
In the DeLay story almost every player has ostentatious religious trappings, starting with the House majority leader himself. His efforts to play God with Terri Schiavo were preceded by crusades like blaming the teaching of evolution for school shootings and raising money for the Traditional Values Coalition's campaign to save America from the "war on Christianity." Mr. DeLay's chief of staff was his pastor, and, according to Time magazine, organized daily prayer sessions in their office. Today this holy man, Ed Buckham, is a lobbyist implicated in another DeLay junket to South Korea. But it's not merely Christian denominations that figure in the religious plumage of this crowd. Mr. Abramoff, who is now being investigated by nearly as many federal agencies as there are nights of Passover, is an Orthodox Jew who in his salad days wore a yarmulke to press interviews. In Washington, he opened not one but two kosher restaurants (I hear the deli was passable by D.C. standards) and started a yeshiva. His uncompromising piety drove him to condemn the one Orthodox Jew in the Senate, Joe Lieberman, for securing "the tortuous death of millions" by supporting abortion rights. Mr. Abramoff's own moral constellation can be found in e-mail messages in which he referred to his Indian clients as "idiots" and "monkeys" even as he squeezed them for every last million. A previous client was Zaire's dictator, Mobutu Sese Seko, who, unlike Senator Lieberman, actually was a practitioner of torture and mass murder.Read Rich a little further, and it turns out that Ralph Reed has Abramoff connections, too. In fact, there are plenty of professional-moralist pastors and rabbis tied into this scandal. And of course, Bill Frist is their best friend in the Senate, just as Tom DeLay is their best friend in the House.
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