Monday, December 13, 2004

Toxic Thermidor

The Moose and I have been hinting for a while that the slowly unfolding scandal involving conservative godfather Jack Abramoff, former Tom DeLay staffer Michael Scanlon, and a series of incredibly cynical shakedowns of Louisiana and Texas Indian Tribes, could be The Big One in taking down a generation of Republican hucksters while exposing the internal rot and corruption of the Conservative Establishment in Washington. This scandal, which a variety of federal law enforcement agencies, and the Senate Indian Affairs Committee (now under the chairmanship of Establishment Right bete noir John McCain) are investigating, has already implicated Ralph Reed, Grover Norquist, and Rep. Bob Ney of OH, and more importantly, could shine a big spotlight on the extent to which Mammon is the true God of today's self-righteous conservatives.

But there's more: in the latest Weekly Standard, Andrew Ferguson interprets the scandal as signalling the death throes of the Republican Revolution of 1994, the event that brought so many of the players in the Abramoff affair into proximity to power, despite all their talk about cleaning up the Augean Stables of Washington.

This is a pretty big deal, if you recall that The Standard was essentially created to serve as the voice of that Revolution. And Kristol's magazine is not the only source of charges that the Revolution is expiring in a toxic Thermidor of corruption and power-mania: no less a figure than Newt Gingrich has expressed disgust with House Republicans' hubristic decision to publicly and preemtively protect Tom DeLay's power against the possibility that he will be indicted for a major felony.

Aside from its symbolic importance, the Ferguson piece is a useful connect-the-dots account of the scandal, and of the personal relationships in the conservative movement that helped Abramoff set himself up as the Big Dog on K Street. My favorite quote in the piece is what Grover Norquist said back in 1995 when Abramoff first set himself up as a lobbyist: "What the Republicans need is 50 Jack Abramoffs. Then this becomes a different town."

Not much question about that.
-- Posted at 9:54 AM | Link to this post | Email this post

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