November 16, 2011

This clip from Meet the Press' webshow "PRESS Pass" leaves me somewhat conflicted. On one hand, Jack Abramoff accusing others of corruption is akin to Karl Rove calling out someone else for rigging elections. On the other hand though I can't disagree with a word Abramoff says about Newt Gingrich. From anyone else still in the Republican Party such comments would likely kill Gingrich's chances at the nomination. As it is, even with Abramoff's checkered past, they're still devastating.

It's also telling that Villager David Gregory has such a hard time grasping that which seems obvious to the rest of us.

GREGORY: Transparency of government is still an issue. It's an issue on the campaign trail and Newt Gingrich, a former Speaker is now caught up in this with Freddie Mac, a large housing giant controlled by the government. He claimed he got $300,000 to be a consultant to them. Bloomberg's reporting was well over a million dollars, providing strategic counseling. What do you make of all that?

ABRAMOFF: Well, this is exactly what I'm talking about. People who come to Washington who have public service and they cash in on it. And they use their public service and their access to make money, and unfortunately Newt Gingrich is one of them who's done it. But far too many of them do it and one of the reforms I propose in my book is to close permanently the door, the revolving door, between public service and cashing in as a lobbyist.

GREGORY: Now I'll ask you more specifically about that in a moment, but let me stick with Gringrich, because of course you're operating at a time there when he's in power.


GREGORY: Is there more to even the Gingrich era that he was part of, that will become a bigger part of this campaign debate, and should it?

ABRAMOFF: Well, I don't know if he'll survive this, to be honest with you, this is a very big thing.


ABRAMOFF: Because he is doing, he's engaged in the exact kind of corruption that America disdains. The very things that anger the Tea Party movement and the Occupy Wall Street movement and everybody who is not in a movement and watches Washington and says why are these guys getting all this money, why do they all become so rich, why do they have these advantages? Unfortunately Newt seems to play right into it.

GREGORY: You call that corruption though?


GREGORY: That's a heavy charge.

ABRAMOFF: Well that... what is it? It's corruption. At the end of the day, I say in the book, I believe now, although I didn't believe then unfortunately, that any provision of favor or any provision of anything to members of Congress and their staff is bribery. And any cashing in on it by them coming out later is corruption.

GREGORY: And he, you, would make the case that he's catching it as a former Speaker, being able to get that kind of contracts.

ABRAMOFF: I know he says that they paid him as a historian to give him a historic lesson, but I'm unaware of any history professor being paid that much money to give someone a history lesson.

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