Once again call me late to the party. Let’s make it clear that if Jack Abramoff decides to flip, the GOP has a huge problem on their hands. As I said in my first post on the subject, Abramoff acted as the bagman for a vast network of corrupt and largely illegal cash reserves set up to benefit the GOP.
It’s easy to see this as a perversion of lobbying, which it is, and since lobbying permeates DC the problem is “the system” it indicts all of the parties and we all might as well shrug and move on. See, the Republicans thought you might have that reflex so Norquist, DeLay and Jack Abramoff kicked off a plan (more here) some years back to make DC lobbying an explicitly Republican operation, to revamp the system in to one of, by and for the Republican party. They called it the ‘K street project,’ after the avenue where the top lobbying firms usually reside. It worked pretty well for them.
The problem with owning the lobbying machinery is that when the lobbying machinery turns into a disgusting cancer you own that too. Some Democrats will go down, I have no doubt, and that’s all for the better. But if this smoldering kindling every truly catches fire you’ll see an amazing number of Reps, aides and hangers-on from the right side of the aisle disappear in smoke.
Today’s big story suggests that Abramoff is facing “increasing pressure” to flip. Pressure? You think? That doesn’t sound like news. Abramoff already faces jail time, his cronies have flipped and prosecutors have his records. God knows he’s faced pressure for a while. Reading between the lines, this suggests to me that the NYT has learned that Abramoff is negotiating a deal but can’t say so yet, except to refer elliptically to rumors. If that’s true this story would serve as a kind of placeholder, like a billboard that says ‘watch this space,’ so that when it breaks into the open they can point back and say toldjah-so. Blogically-speaking it’s one of Josh Marshall’s most annoying habits. So, watch this space.