Holy Indian reservation roulette wheels Batman!
The newly launched Republic Report, an anti-corruption blog focusing on how self-interested dollars are warping the public-interest responsibilities of America’s democratic institutions has actually hired convicted felon Jack Abramoff to be one of its lead bloggers.
Yes, that Jack Abramoff, “Casino Jack”, as profiled in the Alex Gibney film, Casino Jack and the United States of Money.
The Republic Report may be “pulling a Joe Kennedy” here — and I think it’s provocative, bold, will attract a huge heaping pile of hate mail — but nonetheless brings in DC’s version of The Fantastic Mr. Fox to tell the world how the system works and what to watch out for.
This is what Franklin Roosevelt had in mind when he hired Joseph Kennedy Sr., a known stock manipulator and inside trader, to serve as the inaugural chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission. Roosevelt wanted to catch the crooks on Wall Street, and said to a person asking why he had appointed a crook to be the watch dog, “Takes one to catch one.”
And to the naysayers out there, it’s probably better for Abramoff to be writing out about how DC-style corruption works so as to help those unfamiliar with the nuts and bolts of ‘how to make a Senator smile’ do a better job reforming the system rather than getting Ambramoff back out there advising the bad guys how to cash in on the system.
The other bloggers in the group are outstanding and have, for the most part, crystal clear clean progressive track records — including former Think Progress writer Lee Fang, former Center for American Progress youth and college program activist David Halperin, also another former Think Progress correspondent Zaid Jilani, former Foreign Policy and The Atlantic staffer Suzanne Merkelson, tough-minded investigator for the conservative Senator Charles Grassley Paul Thacker — and one of the undisputed early leaders of modern grass roots, digital political activism, Matt Stoller.
Thacker the exception — the rest are real progressives and none have done felony convicted jail time. Bringing Abramoff into this mix is one really interesting way for this blog to distinguish itself in a very crowded marketplace.
Nick Penniman, the well known former TomPaine.com editor and former lead of Huffington Post‘s investigative unit is the president of United Republic which has launched the blog.
I really want to go to the holiday party these folks throw and see if Stoller and Abramoff can do a buddy to buddy thing under the mistletoe — and unite in their common work highlighting the corruption of America’s key democratic platforms.
Abramoff’s first post has gone up — and in it he offers a Joe Kennedy-esque rationale for why he’s doing this with a bit of confession:
It is a privilege for me to add my insights and experience to
their strong and sagacious team and I look forward to working with them
to reveal to our nation the way Washington really works.
There is a rising tide of outrage in our land about the abuse in
our system. Sadly, in my former life as a lobbyist, I participated in
this dysfunctional and byzantine world. But now, in these pages, and
with my other efforts, I intend to do what I can as we all attempt
to repair our democracy.
Interesting move by Nick Penniman and his team. We really look forward to following the entire line up there but also to the next and next next contributions by Jack Abramoff.
— Steve Clemons is Washington Editor at Large at The Atlantic, where this post first appeared. Clemons can be followed on Twitter at @SCClemons