To those who pay no attention, Jack Abramoff's public garment-rending on last night's 60 Minutes probably felt authentic. Falling on his sword claiming shame and sorrow, he castigated all of Washington, DC for their lobbying ways, warning that until lawmakers and staffers cannot become lobbyists, they'd all be owned.
Oh, how noble. How absolutely repentant. Thank you, Jack Abramoff, for coming before we, the people and telling us what needs to happen to clean up our government.
Those who pay attention, Jack Abramoff just gave one of his usual glib award-winning performances intended to sell whatever snake oil he's got in his pocket. In this case it appears to be his book, which I am sure will tell all of us how awful the lobbying industry is and how corrupt our government is. There just seemed to be one tiny thing missing. If you listened carefully to Mr. Abramoff, the system is responsible for the outcome. He apparently had little to do with it.
Even here in this little snippet, Abramoff paints the system at fault and then admits his own responsibility, except not really. You see, for Jack Abramoff, it's a convergence of a corrupt system with his "personality type." In other words, he was simply wired to avail himself of corruption when presented.
I think anyone with half a brain understands that the system is corrupt indeed, and it's corrupt because players like Abramoff and his pals Grover Norquist and Ralph Reed understood exactly how to game it for their maximum gain.
My challenge and response to Jack Abramoff: You say you're sorry, that you accept responsibility? Fine. Prove it. Dig through all the documents and cough up whatever testimony and other proof might be necessary to send Grover and Ralphie away for a few years to contemplate their sins. If prison was good for you, it'll be really good for them.
Instead of going on TV and railing about the system do something to actually clean it up. Start with people who are still actively undermining it. Imagine, if Jack Abramoff had stood up and taken his buddies to jail with him when he had the opportunity, we wouldn't be contending with the likes of Grover Norquist and his bogus pledge, and Ralph Reed wouldn't be charming Iowa voters and playing Christian power politics.
Instead we have Jack Abramoff lobbing missiles at the "system" while dancing around how he gamed it, and how he protected the very players who are still deeply ensconced within it.
Ovid has Abramoff pegged: All things can corrupt when minds are prone to evil.
It wasn't the "system". It was Abramoff and his pals, gaming it. Until the pals are held accountable, he's simply gaming it more. I won't hold my breath waiting for him.