10/01/2005

Contract Killers - New York Times

A GOPpie admits this ??!?: "the Republican Party has once again bested the Democrats, who after all took 40 years to sprout the warts of power". Quick, seal the windows and hunker down, the 4th seal has been broken!!! < /snark > -- law

Contract Killers
By MATTHEW CONTINETTI (writer at Weekly Standard)
Published: October 1, 2005

This is a political witch hunt," Representative Tom DeLay told reporters on Wednesday, shortly after a Texas grand jury indicted him on conspiracy charges, forcing him to step down as House majority leader...

At this, Washingtonians with long memories were barely able to suppress their grins. If Mr. DeLay and his supporters grasped the irony of the occasion, they gave no clue. Eleven years ago this past week, Republican congressmen and candidates unveiled their "Contract With America." Their proposals came just in time for the 1994 midterm elections, which brought the Republicans to power after a 40-year stint in the minority. Back then, Mr. DeLay and other Republicans promised "a new order." They pledged to drain the swamp that was Washington. Just over a decade later, they find themselves up to their necks in the muck.

In the week before Mr. DeLay's indictment, David Safavian, a White House official in the Office of Management and Budget, was arrested in connection with the Justice Department investigation into the lobbying practices of Jack Abramoff, the conservative activist and Republican Party fundraiser. It was the first arrest in the 18-month inquiry, but it is probably not the last. Grease from the Abramoff scandal has rubbed off on conservative stalwarts like the antitax activist Grover Norquist;Ralph Reed, the former executive director of the Christian Coalition; and Republican lawmakers like Representative Bob Ney of Ohio, Senator Conrad Burns of Montana and - here's that name again - Tom DeLay.

Meanwhile the Securities and Exchange Commission is preparing to issue subpoenas in its inquiry into the finances of the Senate majority leader, Bill Frist. And a grand jury investigation into who in the White House leaked the identity of a C.I.A. officer to the press two years ago lumbers toward completion.

It's quite a fall, no doubt about it: from agile insurgency to bloated establishment in just over a decade. So what went wrong? The 1994 Republicans understood that power in Washington was not simply a matter of who controlled the White House and Congress. Passing legislation also required the support of powerful unelected business interests and their representatives on K Street, the historic home of the lobbying trade.

Led by Mr. DeLay in the House, Rick Santorum in the Senate and Grover Norquist downtown, Republicans worked not just toward the partisan realignment of the country, but of the influence industry, too. They tracked which lobbyists were Democrats and which Republicans, refused to meet with the Democrats and pressured business groups and law firms to hire the conservatives. Their strenuous efforts to blur the boundaries between corporate America and the Republican Party came to be known as the K Street Project.

It was an incredible success. By 2002, if you look at numbers from the Center for Responsive Politics, industries that had long made bipartisan campaign contributions largely abandoned the Democrats, leaving Republicans with an overwhelming edge in corporate donations. By 2004, the lobbyists themselves gave the Republicans $1 million more than they gave Democrats. The number of Republican lobbyists grew. And so did the number of lobbyists, period - from about 9,000 when the Republicans took power to more than 34,000 today.

Now the seamy side of all this explosive growth, the fundraising and lobbying scandals like those plaguing Mr. DeLay and Mr. Abramoff, poses a serious threat to Republican power.

Things weren't meant to be this way. The K Street Project was a means to an end. The means was harnessing the political energies of the private sector and its agents. The end was a lasting Republican majority that would limit government and increase individual freedom and responsibility. But, as tends to happen, the means became an end in itself...

the Republican Party has once again bested the Democrats, who after all took 40 years to sprout the warts of power


Contract Killers - New York Times

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