Such semantics aside, it seems Abramoff’s redemption tour is complete. He’s never been more visible — you can catch him on the cable-news circuit, commenting on the need for lobbying reform, or blasting GOP hopeful Newt Gingrich (another comeback kid) for, of all things, corruption.
At Eli’s, he had traded that iconic fedora — a reminder of the old Jack — for a black velvet yarmulke, a reminder of his faith.
He’s got a book out (really, who doesn’t these days?). And on Monday, he’ll be giving a talk at, of all places, the watchdog group Public Citizen, where he’ll be outlining his proposals for cleaning up the influence industry.
Public Citizen President
tells us his organization reached out to Abramoff, not the other way around. He thinks the former lobbyist actually has some pretty good ideas for reforming the system governing lobbying.
“We’re not inviting him here to give him a citizen-of-the-year award,” he said.
Abramoff’s carefully constructed makeover from ex-con to reformer might rely on the Washington establishment’s willingness to buy it, and Weissman says he’s got the goods to sell.
“He has credibility in explaining how lobbyists exert influence, and it’s not important to us what his motivations are,” he said.
Room on the bench
A new tradition is developing in the dysfunctional Washington family: the election-year presidential attack on the Senate for blocking judicial nominees.
In his Saturday address, President Obama decried Senate Republican threats to block his nominees, saying “all of the judicial nominees being blocked have bipartisan support.”
Four years ago, on Feb. 7, 2008, George W. Bush, in his Saturday radio address, complained that Senate Democrats were slow-walking his judicial nominees. And we recall Bill Clinton having similar concerns.
Obama is right that Senate Republicans have been particularly aggressive in blocking his nominees, the liberal Alliance for Justice found in a recently released study. The Senate confirmed 81 percent of Clinton’s nominees in the first three years, 78 percent of Bush’s and only 71 percent of Obama’s.
But it’s also true that, while Obama criticizes the Senate for not moving fast enough, Obama has sent far fewer judicial nominees to the Senate at the end of three years than either Bush or Clinton, even though he’s had roughly the same number of vacancies to fill.
There were also a record number of 30 judicial “emergencies” — defined by the U.S. Judicial Conference as a long-standing vacancy in a busy courthouse.
But it turns out that, at year’s end, there were no nominees before the Senate for 15 of those “emergency” seats — though the Republicans blocked five additional nominees for those seats and slow-walked others.