One of the big points that left-wing bloggers and Democratic leaders have been pushing in the last few weeks is that the Abramoff scandal is a Republican scandal. So while the mainstream media have been speaking about how "both sides" are affected by the scandal, the left has been adamant that it is clearly a Republican problem.
But today, John Aravosis at AMERICABlog, one of the more popular and influential lefty blogs, is incensed that the Democrats have appointed an "ethically challenged Democrat to lead (the) ethics reform fight". The Democrat in question, James Clyburn (SC), is apparently linked to a 1997 trip to the Marianas, paid for by lobbyist Jack Abramoff - an event that is being investigated by the legal team that is prosecuting Abramoff.
Of course, many are now complaining in the comments thread at Americablog that this revelation essentially contradicts the left-wing chorus that Democrats are not involved in the Abramoff scandal. The replies to this are quite disheartening - well, the explanation goes, we weren't saying that Democrats weren't involved, all we were saying was that no Democrat recieved campaign contributions from Jack Abramoff.
This is clearly obfuscation, and it will hit left-bloggers hard. Why is it obfuscation? The idea that has been presented for the past few weeks is that the Democrats are clean, the Republicans are dirty, and the only evidence showing some level of monetary exchange is from an Indian tribe to a Democrat or two - which is obviously not clearly from Abramoff.
To say that I'm disappointed is obvious. No doubt I believe that the Republicans are caught in this net to a large extent, but to deliberately mislead the public and attack the mainstream media for arguing that the Abramoff scandal is not linked to the Democrats at all is exceptionally unhelpful.
I'm likely to get people commenting or disagreeing with me here and there is obviously a great chance that my conclusions are, in fact, wrong. If I am wrong, please show me where and I will publically recant - that is not some turn-of-phrase but a real and genuine promise.
At issue here is the impression left upon me and many others who have trusted left-wing blogs and the various talking points that the Democrats are quite clean in this scandal. This is not about specifics, it is about generalities. I suppose if I did examine the minute detail of the pronouncements I may well discover that when people said "The Democrats are clean" they actually meant "The Democrats did not receive campaign contributions", a qualification that opens the door to Democrats being implicated in other corrupt activity that Jack Abramoff was involved in - which is now clear with James Clyburn.
Let me try to be clearer - the intention of the "Democrats are clean" campaign was to argue generally that Democrats were not involved at all. It was not intended to be a specific argument. Intention is the key here. And because that was the intended message, now that James Clyburn has appeared and is being touted as a Democrat who is being investigated for his involvement with Jack Abramoff, people who now complain are now discovering the "fine print" of the "Democrats are clean" campaign, which essentially puts the blame back on the readers for not realising that it was about campaign funding only.
Left-leaning blogs and Democrats should be clear and totally unambiguous. When the Abramoff scandal broke, members of the left should have made it clear that at least one Democrat was being investigated, rather than attempting to cover it up with the obfuscation of the "Democrats are clean" campaign.
As a political leftist myself I am angry that this has happened. The campaign sacrified long-term respectability for short-term political gain. Truthfulness, accountability and transparency are things that we should fight for, not things we should be trying to avoid for the sake of political gain.
From the One Salient Overlord Department
© 2006 Neil McKenzie Cameron, http://one-salient-oversight.blogspot.com/
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