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Monday, January 09, 2006

Dean on Abramoff

Remember a while back when we were discussing whether or not Howard Dean is a complete and total nut?  Well, here’s an exchange from CNN, that I am copying from a post on The Corner, since some of you may not yet have seen the light.  

BLITZER: Should Democrats who took money from Jack Abramoff, who has now pleaded guilty to bribery charges, among other charges, a Republican lobbyist in Washington, should the Democrat who took money from him give that money to charity or give it back?

DEAN: There are no Democrats who took money from Jack Abramoff, not one, not one single Democrat. Every person named in this scandal is a Republican. Every person under investigation is a Republican. Every person indicted is a Republican. This is a Republican finance scandal. There is no evidence that Jack Abramoff ever gave any Democrat any money. And we've looked through all of those FEC reports to make sure that's true.

BLITZER: But through various Abramoff-related organizations and outfits, a bunch of Democrats did take money that presumably originated with Jack Abramoff.

DEAN: That's not true either. There's no evidence for that either. There is no evidence...

BLITZER: What about Senator Byron Dorgan?

DEAN: Senator Byron Dorgan and some others took money from Indian tribes. They're not agents of Jack Abramoff. There's no evidence that I've seen that Jack Abramoff directed any contributions to Democrats. I know the Republican National Committee would like to get the Democrats involved in this. They're scared. They should be scared. They haven't told the truth. They have misled the American people. And now it appears they're stealing from Indian tribes. The Democrats are not involved in this.

Well, Wolf mentioned Dorgan (about $79,300), but there are others, like Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), who received at least $45,750; Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who received at least $68,941 and Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), who received at least $6,250.  Now, maybe in HD’s world the only money that counts is passed directly from Abramoff’s hand directly to a Senator’s in a dark alley somewhere, but well, that’s just ridiculous.  I think the whole thing is a bad deal and will probably hurt some people who don’t deserve to be.  Dean’s claim may be truthful, but only because he misspoke; the tribes are not agents of Abramoff, they were usually clients. In total, the National Republican Senatorial Committee analysis (yeah, I know, they may be a little biased, or at least have an interest in spreading the guilt) found that 40 of the 45 Democrats in the Senate had received campaign funds from Abramoff clients.  


I'm no fan of Howard Dean, and, from what I've read, he appears to be fudging in this interview. However, I don't think we should lose sight of his larger point, which I take to be that Jack Abramoff was more or less an unofficial Republican operative dedicated to advancing Republican (or conservative or whatever) causes. Democrats may be involved in this scandal, but at its core this scandal seems to involve the breakdown of a corrupt Republican political machine.
First, glad to see that you're still alive, wondered where our two readers had gone...

Second, you're right, I did kind of jerk the old knee on this one with the "aha! You're wrong Howie!" While I do think I am right in saying that he is wrong, you are certainly correct on the larger issue, that this is essentially a Republican problem. I know that I can say that, because Rich Lowry said so in an NRO column today. Seriously though, I think Howard could have been a little more honest and still made his point, but then again, who am I to lecture on tact?
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