A couple quick follow-ups on the Abramoff article in the Post today.
First, there's this passage ...
DeLay, a Christian conservative, did not quite know what to make of Abramoff, who wore a beard and a yarmulke. They forged political ties, but the two men never became personally close, according to associates of both men.
"Personally close" can mean a lot of things. And what it means in the often-inherently-phony world of politics is anyone's guess. But in this context I take the passage above to mean that though they had politics and political money ties, it was always an arm's length relationship on a personal level.
That's not what I hear in talking to people. In fact, I have an February 2003 email
between Abramoff and Christine DeLay in which they discuss a private dinner with the DeLays, the Abramoffs and Washington Wizards owner Abe Pollin and his wife Irene the night before. The email makes it sound the two couples were close and socialized together.
Remember too that back in August the Post ran an unrebutted but now endlessly discredited claim
that DeLay had washed his hands of Abramoff in early 2001 after first hearing about the murder of Abramoff's erstwhile business partner Gus Boulis.
Certainly, claims that the two men weren't close would be entirely self-serving from the DeLay side; on the Abramoff side, that's less clear. But for the reasons above and others, call me unconvinced.
Then there's this passage ...
Abramoff wallowed in his access, real and imagined. When his crack administrative assistant Susan Ralston bolted for a position with White House political adviser Karl Rove, Abramoff told colleagues he had gotten her the job even though it was Ralston's old boss, Reed, who made it happen, her former colleagues said.
Is this really credible? Abramoff was tight with Rove. And 2000/2001 when just on the cusp of Abramoff's glory days when he was a huge player in DC. And his right-hand-woman (she was a key player for both men; the title understates her role) went to work for Rove when the Bush administration came in.
We know that Abramoff worked assiduously and fairly successfully to get colleagues and business associates of his into key positions in the administration for obvious reasons. And his key assistant goes and becomes the gatekeeper for Karl Rove. But he had nothing to do with it.
I just don't think that passes the laugh test.
It was Ralph Reed? He's close to both men of course. And perhaps he put in a good word for her too. But somehow I figure the guy who'd worked with her closely for years would be the more likely person to have secured the appointment than someone like Reed she'd never worked with.
And look at the phrasing. "Ralston bolted for a position with White House political adviser Karl Rove." Apparently she just couldn't get away from him quick enough.
Of course her "former colleagues" say that Abramoff didn't have anything to do with getting her the job! Ralston's now at the center of -- if not necessarily implicated in -- two on-going criminal investigations. She doesn't need any more trouble than she's already got.
I don't know the specifics of how she went from Abramoff to Rove. But I think more than self-serving testimony from Ralston's proxies is needed to jettison the common understanding that Jack got her the job.