Chutzpah Watch

CHUTZPAH WATCH….I’ve linked to Nick Confessore’s “Welcome to the Machine” before, but I know that most of you probably haven’t followed the link to read his seminal piece on the K Street Project. So here’s the nickel version:

It took something that hadn’t happened in 40 years to begin to change the culture of K Street: In 1994, Republicans won control of Congress….New Republican leaders like Newt Gingrich, Dick Armey, Tom DeLay, and a handful of close advisers like Ed Gillespie and Grover Norquist, quickly consolidated power in the House, and turned their attention to the lobbying community.

….In 1995, DeLay famously compiled a list of the 400 largest PACs, along with the amounts and percentages of money they had recently given to each party. Lobbyists were invited into DeLay’s office and shown their place in “friendly” or “unfriendly” columns. (“If you want to play in our revolution,” DeLay told The Washington Post, “you have to live by our rules.”)

….Working on the outside, Norquist accelerated what he calls the “K Street Project,” a database intended to track the party affiliation, Hill experience, and political giving of every lobbyist in town. With Democrats out of power, these efforts are bearing fruit. Slowly, the GOP is marginalizing Democratic lobbyists and populating K Street with loyal Republicans. (DeLay alone has placed a dozen of his aides at key lobbying and trade association jobs in the last few years ? “graduates of the DeLay school,” as they are known.) Already, the GOP and some of its key private-sector allies, such as PhRMA, have become indistinguishable.

Here are the key points: Today’s Republican entanglement with corporate lobbyists like Jack Abramoff is not an accident. It’s not a matter of a few bad apples. And it’s not something that happened gradually as Republicans got overly accustomed to power and lost their revolutionary zeal. It was a deliberate strategy, conceived by the leaders of the 1994 revolution as part of their fundamental governing strategy, and pursued relentlessly ever since.

Got that? Good. Now listen to this excerpt from John Boehner’s pathetically inept PowerPoint pitch, “For a Majority That Matters”:

The sordid spectacle of Jack Abramoff arises from two factors….The second is that many of the lobbyists who enter our offices every day to represent their clients are, for all practical purposes, complete mysteries to us. Yet for the House to function, some degree of trust is necessary. Many lobbyists are of the highest integrity and feel as much of a duty to the House as a democratic institution as they do to their clients. But there?s every incentive for those with more questionable ethics to shortchange us and the House. And absent our personal, longstanding relationships, there is no way for us to tell the difference between the two.

The chutzpah quotient here is staggering. Boehner is seriously trying to suggest that the real problem behind the Republican corruption scandal is that Republicans don’t know the lobbying community well enough.

Let that sink in. No group in history has been closer to the corporate lobbying community than today’s GOP. They meet with top lobbyists weekly. They track their every donation. They keep detailed databases of thousands of them. They put the arm on them to host fundraisers at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. And of them all, Jack Abramoff was by long odds the best known of the bunch: a Republican operative for three decades, a good friend (and generous campaign contributor) to more than half the Republican caucus, and a man who steered tens of millions of dollars into Republican coffers.

But according to Boehner, the real problem behind the “sordid spectacle” of Jack Abramoff is that Republicans aren’t close enough to the lobbying community. What’s desperately needed is more “personal, longstanding relationships,” not fewer.

Put that in your pipe and smoke it, liberal weenies.