Hey, I’m stealing the line that Leslie Stahl used in her interview with lobbyist Jack Abramoff on "60 Minutes."
I'm mad at you, Leslie.
To Abramoff, she said, “I’m mad at you” when he confessed to her on camera that he was buying politicians (old news, yes, but it must be brought up again.)
It was classic TV drama, Stahl with facial expressions and comments made it clear that she was angry at how Abramoff was ruining the country.
“I really think that what you were doing was subverting the essence of our system,” said Stahl.
“I’m mad at you, I’m not kidding, I’m not kidding,” as she closed her eyes and shook her head in disdain.
“I’m sick to my stomach…’cuz it’s hurting our country.”
Okay, Leslie, we got it. You’re mad.
I guess I’m
mad at you because I wish you would show even a portion of the same anger towards those in power “subverting the essence of our system” as we speak.
First, you go after people who are no longer in power. That’s easy, that’s a layup. How hard is it to be mad at corrupt people no longer in power? I’ll join you. I’m mad a Jack Abramoff too (but since he's a corrupt Republican selling a book, he gets airtime.) There; we’re all mad at Jack Abramoff. Grrr. I’m going to growl
to show how mad I am. While we’re at it, can we get mad at Nixon again?
Second, my theory in reporting is that it is 10 times better to go after the people in power who choose to be “bought” by the lobbyists, than it is to go after the lobbyists. The corruption lies in those who succumb to the temptation, not so much the tempters. The temptation to be a corrupt politician will always be there, no matter how you try to legislate against it (as you suggested at the end of your piece,) let’s focus on politicians who are being bought.
Leslie, are you mad at Harry Reid? He took money from Abramoff and wrote at least four letters to Indian tribes
that Abramoff represented to try to get them approved for gambling. Reid later returned the money, but if that's the only standard here, anybody could take whatever cash they want, give favors, then wait to see if they get caught. You should’ve mentioned this in your story and perhaps even called Reid to get a comment. That would’ve been fun to watch you confront the current Senate Majority Leader to see what he would have to say about his ol’ buddy, Abramoff. Good TV right there. I’m curious why you didn’t do that. Does this have anything to do with the fact that Reid is a Democrat and currently in power so instead of doing something substantive you chose to take the layup? Goodness gracious, you’re at "60 Minutes," I’ve seen better reporting in Yakima, Washington.
Leslie, are you mad at Barack Obama for saying he would have no lobbyists in his administration, then piling up lobbyists
like crazy in his White House? I’m guessing not, you didn’t bring it up in your story. He's currently in power and that's tough to go after people in power.
Abramoff currently does bookkeeping at a pizza shop and another guy you went after in your story is now a janitor. You went after a janitor and a guy who works at a pizza shop. Tough stuff there.
(BTW, I should mention here that I’m really not “mad” at Leslie Stahl, I don’t know her. I don’t get mad at people I know, I’m certainly not going to get mad at somebody I don’t know, but the line seems to work with this story since she used it-- and with that said, I’ll stop directing this column at Leslie.)
As for lobbyists, I have no expectations of them except that they will peddle whatever they are paid to peddle. That’s their job, that’s what they do, they are what they are. As reporters we get "lobbied" by people all the time to do stories. BTW, lobbyists are not inherently evil. Is a lobbyist for the Red Cross evil? What about a lobbyist for the Salvation Army? What about a lobbyist for the nuclear industry that keeps the power on so CBS can broadcast "60 Minutes?"
In her story Stahl mentioned the obscure law that allowed gambling on land that belonged to tribes that were clients of Abramoff. She even quoted the obscure chapter and verse of the law that Abramoff got changed and then she gasped (yes, she gasped) when former Congressman Bob Nay (corrupt Republican) said he had no idea what the law meant when he voted for it because he hadn’t read it. I wonder if Leslie has checked out ObamaCare? There you will find many, many more obscure passages written by lobbyists that no politician could ever comprehend, but Democrats voted for it without reading about it. The big difference here is that ObamaCare would take over one-fifth of our nation’s economy and control each of our lives. That’s a little more important than approving gambling on tribal lands. How fun would it be to see somebody sit Nancy Pelosi down and read obscure, convoluted parts of ObamaCare to her and ask her to explain them to you. I’m TiVoing that show and watching it twice.
As expected, Stahl mentioned at the start of the story that Abramof was a “Republican” lobbyist and she mentioned only Republicans as part of this scandal. Abramoff sucked in plenty of Democrats as well, and as I wrote last week, we all know how this game works;
the political party of the perp gets mentioned when Republicans are involved, virtually ignored when Democrats are involved.
Finally, and I will address Ms. Stahl here again: Leslie, breaking news, you're not going to like hearing this, but as a member of the activist old media, you are a lobbyist.