Collateral Damage?

From American Prospect

This passage caught my eye in Sheryl Gay Stolberg’s piece assessing the response on Capitol Hill to Jack Abramoff’s plea yesterday:

    "While Mr. Abramoff is most closely linked to Republicans, even Democrats, many of whom also benefited from his largesse, acted skittish.

    ‘We’re talking about people who have longstanding careers in Congress who took contributions from somebody who knew somebody who knew somebody who knew Jack Abramoff,’ said a Democratic Congressional aide who insisted on anonymity so as not to drag his boss into the scandal. ‘Now they’re panicked. The hope is that this investigation will root out the wrongdoing without innocent people getting hit with the ricochet.’"

I’ve heard similar sentiments expressed by Democratic staffers about this scandal, and the reflexive nervousness is pretty revealing — not to say dispiriting. Obviously specific Democratic incumbents who’ve taken Abramoff money or have had staff go work for him are only being rational to worry about the fallout here. But surely the first priority of the minority party itself is to become the majority party. Hesitance and nervousness regarding an enormous and overwhelmingly Republican corruption scandal are hardly the emotions one should expect from Democrats.

Yet that’s what we’re getting. This certainly implies Congressional Democrats are afraid of becoming as embroiled in this as Republicans. We all know Congressional Democrats lack vertabrae, but this reaction isn’t cowardice, it’s fear. Instead of going for the jugular and ripping the Republicans to shreds, they’re timid, uncertain, and running for cover. Sounds like there’s serious Democratic involvement with Abramoff too. What other explanation is there?

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