10 February 2006

Abramoff and Bush

It is stunning to watch this administration's reaction when confronted with bad news. No matter what, their first reaction is always to deny it. Global warming doesn't exist, the president isn't unpopular, Bush opponents aren't excluded from events, no one at the White House leaked Valerie Plame's identity, a plane was headed for the White House on 9/11, Bush completed his National Guard service, etc., etc. I think their calculation is that by the time the truth comes out, the media will have moved on, and people will only remember the denials, not the truth.

A recent example is the White House's statements that Bush doesn't know disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff, and while Abramoff might have been at a few large gatherings at the White House, Bush certainly doesn't know him personally. It seems that the White House has asked at least one photo studio to hide pictures of Bush and Abramoff together.

These claims never passed the sniff test. It strains credulity beyond all reason to believe that Bush, who takes good care of his big donors, would not do what he could to stay close to Abramoff, one of the Bush Pioneers.

According to Abramoff, the White House is simply lying about his relationship with Bush. He says he met Bush "almost a dozen" times, and that Bush even invited him to his ranch.

Now, I don't trust Abramoff any more than I trust Bush. But given that Abramoff has little to gain from saying what he's saying, and Bush has a lot to gain from what he's saying, I would give Abramoff the benefit of the doubt in this case.

What puzzles me, though, is why the White House didn't just say, as the scandal was breaking, that they were shocked at the allegations, give the money back, and swear to be more careful about who they associate with in the future? Why lie as the knee-jerk response? Maybe it's just that longstanding habits are hard to break.

Technorati Tags: ,