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McClellan to Media: Get Bent

yeah, I said that yesterday, that's SO in the past, we're dealing with today, now

This is Dark Cloud on Wednesday, January 18, 2006.

Recently, Presidential Press Spokesman Scott McClellan said he would arrange a list of times admitted crook Jack Abramoff visited the White House over the last five years. This was meant as a public show of cooperation with the media, because – according to McClellan – President Bush may have met Jack Abramoff in some public reception but didn’t know him and had nothing to hide.

First, McClellan thought it was only three Hanukkah receptions where Abramoff may have met the President. This has been downgraded to two Hanukkah receptions and, according to McClellan, "just a few staff-level meetings." Oookay. Embarrassing, perhaps, but that doesn’t sound out of the ordinary for such a huge donor to GOP causes and the Bush campaign in particular. Although, how high up was this staff?

But today, McClellan reveals the White House won't release any details of any of the staff-level meetings Abramoff attended at the White House. According to the Associated Press: "The White House is refusing to reveal details of tainted lobbyist Jack Abramoff's visits with President Bush's staff….. (McClellan) would not say with whom Abramoff met, which interests he was representing or how he got access to the White House.”

This might be because information is appearing about Grover Norquist’s involvement with Abramoff. Norquist, who is an anti-big government crusader, or so he cagily intimates, is one of two or three top Republican political operatives in Washington, and a close advisor to President Bush. Among other fascinating things, Norquist apparently used his organization, Americans for Tax Reform, as a laundry service to hide the doings of fellow GOP power lobbyist Ralph Reed, founder of the Christian Coalition, from being exposed as the hypocritical fraud those posturing moral types always are. Reed got money for 'anti-gambling' lobbying activities from Abramoff, who turned the hose of Indian casino funds on at Reed’s requested need. Which is to say, Reed used gambling funds to fight gambling funds, keeping both sides in the dark. Supposedly, Christian organizations wouldn’t touch gambling money because it’s sinfully accumulated.

In any case, it isn’t a good sign that the White House has ceased any cooperation today shedding light on who Jack Abramoff visited and negotiated with in those sacred halls where Republicans once feigned horror at extramarital sex not their own, or what the issues were, and what decisions were made. There is no national security issue, only GOP benefit of cash flow.

Recall, the last time a similar issue arose was about five years ago when Dick Cheney met with energy interests to construct and maintain an energy policy which ignored not only environmentalists, which isn’t all that surprising, but any who didn’t already share the administration’s views. Now, you can make logical arguments about those meetings, and nobody claims meetings are illegal, and nobody has claimed a law was broken, but every red flag in the world goes up when the White House wouldn’t reveal exactly who had been there or what had been discussed at those meetings with the Vice President. It makes it look very suspicious and, you know, given the condescending attitude of the administration, rather annoying. This was well before 9-11.

So, now we have a major scandal, one that even Republicans are admitting is a disturbingly new cephalopod previously unknown to science, with uncountable numbers of appendages reaching into every dark closet with a Bush/Cheney sticker, and that seems to have been alive in our midst known only to …….well, a lot of hitherto grateful Republicans. We’re to believe this is news to Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, who yesterday said, in regards to the spanking new GOP ethics committee and its proposals, that till recently nobody knew who Jack Abramoff was, and golly gee they’re just trying to figure the darn thing out and make it all right again, being god-fearing Christian men, one supposes.

Got that? The Speaker of the House wants us to believe that one of the biggest lobbyists in Washington, one who was such a huge contributor to GOP causes for five years and was so giving to the President in particular he was admitted into the Bush Pioneer status, was someone neither he nor any other Republican official had heard of till that unpleasant Tom DeLay, who they may have met once and hardly knew, unexpectedly turned out to be not a nice man. Hastert expects us to accept and believe all that.

So it comes round. The White House has taken to the mattresses and won’t tell us what Abramoff was doing at the White House, just as they won’t tell us who was there with Cheney. We’re going to have to dig it out. It will be very hard at this stage to divert attention, probably because the righteous among the GOP, and they exist untainted by the ubersquid Abramoff, aren’t going to tolerate it anymore than the opportunistic Democrats or we should.

The more I understand about all this, or think I do, the bigger and worse it looks, especially with McClellan trying to keep us in the dark about who a crook - one who admitted to deliberately and successfully corrupting public officials - met with in the White House, and how often, or about what. And what actions resulted.