For whatever reason the newsreading public loves them a sex scandal. Maybe illicit sex is easier to understand than white collar crime (to illustrate, please write down what exactly Jack Abramoff did wrong. you have five minutes). It could have to do with that extra dose of personal humiliation. It probably owes more than we would admit to our puritan roots. Whatever the case, the slow-moving train wreck that is Deborah Jeane Palfrey has already taken two scalps and looks to bring down a bevy more before it burns itself out.
The latest from RawStory focuses on a relatively weak scoop (an online client review contained explicit sex talk!), but note this paragraph:
The release of Palfrey’s client list to ABC News has already resulted in the resignation of one top Bush administration, Randall Tobias of the State Department. Tobias has admitted to using Palfrey’s escort service to receive “massages” but insists that he did not have sex with her prostitutes. Earlier today, ABC’s Brian Ross revealed that the “head of a conservative thinktank” was included among her record of clients, and that many key clients will be revealed in a 20/20 broadcast on Friday.
I wait for the day when one of these guys says something like yeah, I paid for sex, just like 30% of the men in America at some point. Maybe that doesn’t make me a saint, but it’s my private life and the only person whose forgiveness I need to ask is my wife. Now get off my lawn. Scandal over, nobody needs to resign.
But that won’t happen, and if it did I could be wrong about it making the scandalmongers go away. Given the insane number of potentates in her alleged client list the Palfrey saga will probably claim as many scalps as Abramoff did. Unlike a public corruption scandal however, in a sex flap like this the fault lies more in the mob than the monster. So as much as I enjoy seeing any public figure taken down on the general principle that turnover is good, don’t look for much boo-yah from me when the unnamed thinktank head resigns or goes through hell to prevent it.
Anyone else notice the wierd synchronicity between the D.C. Madam story and this one?
Yes, this story will feed yet another lurid media freak show. On the other hand, the “Yes I did it. Now piss off” defense works better when you’re not a sanctimonious, hypocritical prick engaged in a public war to criminalize sex. Couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch.
Just for the hell of it… until Abramoff came along, the lobbying industry — that is, the people who are hired to talk to legislators and make sure they keep legislation friendly to certain groups, with varying degrees of similarity to bribes — were reasonably bipartisan. It was based on personal loyalty, or regional or ideological sympathies, rather than partisan loyalty. Abramoff turned it into as partisan a process as he could. He got jobs with lobbying companies for his cronies, got lobbyists jobs in government, punished lobbyists who continued to support Democrats, and worst of all, froze Democrats out of those not-really-bribes.
On the downside, my analysis can’t be entirely accurate because as far as I know there’s nothing actually illegal in that. He must, at the very least, have been accused of something criminal, but I don’t know what, unless something I mentioned was a crime and I just don’t know it. On the other hand, I did indeed finish that analysis in about five minutes after I started typing. Do I get a cookie?
The Other Steve
By freezing Democrats out of the bribery process, Abramhoff made it easy to use Lobbying as a partisan campaign issue.
So perhaps we should be thank Black Jack.
pretty much the short and long of it.
if you’d caught, say, some liberal ‘has a rep as a playboy already’ could easily get away with ‘ yha, i paid for sex. piss off’
the ‘president commited high cirems and misdomenors and should be impeched because he lied about getting a blowjob from a chubby intern’ crowd, not so much the working
From LarryB’s link:
Hottest. Protest. Ever.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe Abramoff is guilty of a number of crimes ranging from embezzlement of funds from some of those Indian Casinos to attempting to circumvent the cap on donations to political parties to directly bribing government officals for legislation. And there might have been some obstruction of justice thrown in there for good measure.
Basically, he stole money from Native Americans to give illegal payouts TRAMPAC politicos in order to facilitate legislation that would let him steal more money from the casinos and deliver even more money to DeLay’s coffers.
I think Cyrus and Larry together kind of nail it.
People don’t understand why what Abramoff did was wronger than anything else. The idea that a lobbyist really does pay for access, not for a vote, seems alien to everyone who hasn’t actually dealt with lobbying. The idea that there are legal regulations to keep things that way — even stranger to people who don’t deal with the industry. Result: people don’t see what he did as being any more or less wrong than what other lobbyist did. (And, frankly, had he been bipartisan, there’d be a lot less eagerness to investigate him. Lesson to the K street project: someday, you’re going to want bipartisan cover.)
OTOH, whether 30% of all men pay for sex at some point, we all know that it’s potentially dangerous to a partner who doesn’t know it’s going on. Thus, we all understand why illegal prostitution poses a risk to people who can’t be reasonably expected to defend against the risks. Add in the juiciness of a sex scandal — something we all understand because we all understand sexual temptation — and the hypocrisy, too…it’s a great story.
What Abramoff did wrong:
As a lobbyist, he got involved with shady dealings, such as with Sun Cruz Casinos, which he purchased in a quiet move which was illegal since he was a member of the consultation firm, the deal involved wire transfer fraud… and subsequently ended in murder?
Huh huh! You said “head.”
So far as Jack A. is concerned, people do understand money and they do understand that people who have a lot of it tend to screw over people who don’t. Hence the attempt to paint Democrats and liberals as lock-jawed elitists while portraying a trust fund baby from Connecticut as a good ol’ boy from Texas.
What if it was a figure who was equivalent to a James Dobson?
Would that the GOP didn’t present itself as the morally superior party. Then these sorts of scandals wouldn’t threaten the body politic.
And fuck you, Tim, for being such a condescending twat (about peoples’ ability to understand and summarize l’Affaire Abramoff.
Actually Abramoff was part of the machine but this part here was more tied to Tom DeLay and those involved in the K Street project. Abramoff bribed public officials and violated several laws involving the “gifts” he gave. Further he embezzled money from Indian tribes and was able to successfully bribe top republican officials to do his and his clients bidding (see marianas Islands and labor laws). He also was running a scheme where he would hire former aides to lobby their former bosses in congress.
What you illustrate, the packing of lobbying firms with republicans and freezing out lobbyists if they dealt with Democrats and did not hire republicans was part of the K Street project run by the likes of Tom DeLay and lil Ricky Santorum. It was basically the old mob/racketeering practice of “I know someone who does cement work…you’ll hire him”.
If the wing-nuts weren’t so self-righteous, the party of shoving their morals down the country’s throats, I wouldn’t care either. In this case, I’m going to enjoy watching all these bible bangers choke on their hypocrisies.
For most, yes. But when you burn mad calories yelling at others to practice abstinence, eschew condoms b/c fidelity is the virtue, and generally portray yourself and your party as the Jesus-jonesin’, sin-free, Btichin’ Bible Bangers Boldly Believing in Bush, you may have a problem with this type of admission.
I dunno, with this Palfrey thing, really the Pubs should be happy and relieved. At least it seems likely to involve only straight sex with adult women. Sure, it’s sex for money (like those losers are going to get it any other way) and probably cheating on a wife, but you go for the best you can get.
After Foley, Haggard, Dirty Sanchez, and no doubt countless other unsung family values heroes, the trend line was not good. How long before we were going to hear of Cheney in stilettos and nipple studs hitting on Barney? I don’t think the country could have survived that.
Straight sex with an adult woman got Clinton impeached.
Damn it, pass the mind bleach!
Anyway, you mean Rove. Cheney is a ball-gag and goat man.
OT: Old MacDonald took a hike, ee, i, ee, i, oo.
30 percent of men in America? I guess the economy IS booming. Still people need better hobbies.
Ah yes, of course, I had forgot the embezzling from the Indian casinos. I remember it now that you mention it, including gleeful e-mails about how he would be soaking them for a lot of money, but it didn’t come to mind as I was writing. I didn’t know about the SunCruz thing or being linked to murder, though.
And I realize that lobbying is paying for access and a voice, not an actual vote or bill, and a lot of it really is not the same thing as a bribe. I felt that looking anything up would have defeated the purpose of the exercise, and had I not been trying to answer the question quickly, I would have included a lot of caveats and stuff.
Maybe the difference between sex scandals and white-collar crime is that in the former, the relationships between perpetrators, victims and accomplices are relatively obvious. Not completely obvious, of course — is a prostitute the accomplice in a married man betraying his wife/congregation/whatever, is she a victim in being exploited, or is she (or, um, he) the the perpetrator for ruining the reputation of a john who didn’t actually do something all that unusual? Details matter — but it’s a whole lot more obvious than in white collar crime. There’s a pretty simple and personal story to tell about the Clenis, or Ted Haggard, or whatever. By contrast, well, all the different views of Abramoff, which may be compatible and complementary, but all emphasize a different angle, all cast what happened in varying degrees of bad, and few have one single individual who was directly harmed by what Abramoff did and couldn’t also be plausibly accused of wrongdoing.
To summarize, in case this is too long-winded: White-collar crime is equally bad, and in some cases just as understandable, but often, harder to see as a criminal vs. wronged victim narrative.
I linked for your benefit, not mine. It was a local story, as I was in FL at the time. Sun Cruz Casino boats worked out of both coasts of FL, with operations just 30 miles from where I lived. It was a local scandal.
Anyway, see Rule #1: IOKIYAR. Saying Clinton did it too gives bonus points.
Actually he was impeached for perjury and obstruction of justice.
I’ve been wondering if the DC Madam affair is in any way tied to the Goss/Foggo/Wilkes scandal. Remember Wilkes used to throw poker and prostitute parties at the Watergate.
“please write down what exactly Jack Abramoff did wrong. you have five minutes”
Well, let’s see. He took money from people (Chocktaw Indians) whose land land had been stolen in the past, and gave it to a sniper school for people stealing land in the present (West Bank settlers).
The irony may be profound but the process is simple enough.
What Dave said at 10:50. Sex scandals are stupid. Unless you make your bones being a faux moralistic pompous windbag. Then you get what you deserve, Rev. Haggard.
Wasn’t the the statement that committed perjery “I did not have sex with that woman”?
perjury, sorry, didn’t preview. Too busy working!
He was impeached for alleged perjury, but he was not convicted, which is to say that he was found not guilty of committing perjury.
Which is to say that he was impeached for straight sex with an adult woman.
Jimmmmm and Dave got it right. If you’re going to claim that your positions are morally superior, and the other party is the party of acid, amnesty and abortion (or whatever the modern equivalent might be), you damn well better keep your nose clean. It’s the hypocrisy, stupid!
Or, even shorter, “we wouldn’t care about it if you didn’t first”
Also, we don’t know what these “girls” got up to with whips and chains.
The “sex fantasy but no, no, not sex!” makes me think there is at least some pseudo-BSDM (what the repubs would think is BSDM) going on there.
Guffaws and sniggers from this corner, plus an order for extra popcorn. Hey, I don’t care what floats your boat, just as long as you haven’t been a prick shoving your no-sex-before-marriage-pearl-clutching-religious-nitwittiness down my throat.
The sort of escort agency this was would require that the girls get tested regularly. Imagine what even one case of a client getting an infection would do to the reputation of the agency. People paying thousands of dollars for sex expect a little bit more than the folks looking for $20 blowjobs in the alley.
Although the industry is not regulated by the government (to the shame of our stupid, irrational society) there a number of online review boards where both providers and clients contribute information in an effort to keep people honest.
The idea that sleazy pimps and crack whores are the norm in the business is a myth. Such people are universally reviled by johns and madames alike, and are very much the exception to the rule. At least that’s my impression.
I don’t care either… but it’s worth noting that the pearl-clutching crowd do tend to be into some pretty fucked up shit behind closed doors.
I make absolutely no secret of my love for the sex, but then my tastes are pretty tame and ordinary. Just give me a cute blonde in a cheerleader skirt and I’m good to go.
But when the fire and brimstone crowd get horny… man, I don’t even want to know.
THE CLINTON-LEWINSKY RATIONALE, 1998: oral sex is not sex, per se
THE RANDALL TOBIAS RATIONALE, 2007 (???): It was just a massage (i.e., she massaged my penis with her vagina)
It wasn’t sex according to the definitions stipulated to by the plaintiff’s attorneys.
Zombie Santa Claus
All’s I know is, if she releases my name, it’s bullshit. Santa Claus only loves Mrs. Claus, children! Don’t let any madams, strippers, or harlots tell you anything different!
Ho ho ho, bitches!
The “head of a conservative thinktank” was included among her record of client” is a misprint. It should read:
“Head in a conservative thinktank was included among her record of services.”
the only unforgivable sin in politics is getting caught.
Oral sex is fine, so long as there is good sound insulation.
Tim is right. It is none of our business if some hot shot D.C. bigwigs have been availing themselves of Ms. Palfrey’s services. Except that, for the past two decades, Republicans have made it their business to peek into everybody else’s personal lives. First it was under the guise of morality, then after 9-11, it was ostensibly for security. So now, we live in a virtual police state where neighbors can peek into your bedrooms, women have no control over their own bodies and Dick Cheney and Karl Rove can go through every one of our emails, library records, medical files or banking statements.
If Ted Kennedy or John Conyers winds up on that list, I couldn’t care less. They’re not the ones that have been pushing for absolute control over every aspect of my morality or personal life. But if it’s a Mitch McConnel or an Orrin Hatch or a Gary Bauer, you’re damn right I wanna know about it. And I relish the thought of their lives being taken apart and destroyed because of it.