Monday, October 02, 2006

"Have you at last no decency?"

It's been clear throughout the run up to the mid-term elections that the Republican party was following a two-pronged attack. At the national level, the party that once derided the Democrats for "scaring senior citizens into the voting booth" is now, as it did in the last election, trying to scare people into the voting booth. (You know, "Vote Republican or die!")

At the local level, the party was pouring millions of campaign dollars into "opposition research" and the resulting attack ads. If you're near a television set, you've probably seen plenty of these already. Here in Pennsylvania I can't turn on the set without seeing another Santorum attack on Casey.

But you have to be careful what you pray for, as I'm sure the Republicans must have heard from the parents. Pray for slime; you get slime.

"Macaca" dripping from his lips, George Allen now finds himself on the receiving end of the very kind of opposition research his party relies upon. Somehow he isn't pleased to find inquisitors dogging his past steps. Thanks to the "Macaca" episode, journalists are finally waking up to the fact that those Confederate flags Allen sported for years meant something.

Then there's the Foley follies. The story first broke nationally in the frame that the Republicans had hoped would hold. The only Foley emails quoted in the morning papers were those "too friendly" ones that Hastert admits having known about. But by the time I got home from work that day, Foley had resigned, the story of the sexually explicit emails and instant messages had gotten out, and the national Republican apparatus was in full panic mode as the full scale of the evil became apparent.

Meanwhile, over at the Department of Education, we learn (partly due to emails -- will they ever learn?) that the No Child Left Behind Act has become a mechanism for enriching Republican cronies. That part of the act that purportedly made funds available for the adoption of "scientifically tested" reading programs had been perverted, as anyone could have predicted, and was openly employed to steer millions to a few companies close to the administration. The people administering this scam openly (those emails!) gloated about how they were screwing all other reading programs, scientifically tested or not.

And then there are the continual revelations at the White House itself. Not only does it turn out that Abramoff had hundreds of contacts with White House staff, but we now learn (yet more emails!) that Karl Rove's top aide, Susan Ralston, accepted thousands of dollars of booty from Abramoff -- tickets to MCI Center to see Bruce Springsteen, Andrea Bocelli, Capitals hockey games, a Wizards basketball game, an outing with the Baltimore Orioles. The Wizards tickets alone were $1,300 face value. Rove, too, got tickets, but his office assures the press that he paid for them.

Why is Karl Rove buying tickets from a lobbyist in the first place?

This is of a piece with the White House defense against the story of the hundreds of Abramoff contacts. The administration pooh poohs the list, pointing out that Abramoff is known to pad his billings with contacts that didn't happen. But the White House keeps logs of everything. It would be a simple matter for them to produce records showing whether Abramoff's billings were correct or not, and yet we have yet to see any of those records.

And that, my friends, was just in two days of one week.


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