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Jack U. Abramoff

Topics: Editorial & Opinion | Add A CommentBy admin | March 9, 2012

If the Jack Abramoff Fan Club ever elects a president, it will probably be Jack Abramoff.

Jack U AbramoffThe other day I snagged a copy of Jack Abramoff’s Capitol Punishment from the local library. I was going to buy it, but something inside me resisted the idea of putting money in Abramoff’s pockets, even if it was the paltry royalty from a single book. I have been fascinated for several years by the way DC insiders developed such profound amnesia when Abramoff’s corrupt lobby empire imploded in 2006, especially the way George Bush essentially denied ever knowing him while in almost the same breath he commuted his pal Scooter’s sentence  before he even served time. I’m only about half way through the book; one of the benefits of today’s information overloaded world is that for almost any topic of interest, there’s probably a film version, a book, and in the case of Jack Abramoff, 1,240,000 Google search results. Rapidly wearying of Abramoff’s “I’m just a regular guy from Atlantic City and Beverly Hills who got into Brandeis because Sugar Ray Robinson was a friend of the family” style of storytelling in the early part of his book, I opted to watch Casino Jack and the United States of Money and Casino Jack back to back for additional color. The former seemed to be a fair take on Abramoff’s career arc, and includes shocking video footage of things like Karl Rove with hair. The latter – although liberally spread with cheese at points, was worth a look, if only to see Kevin Spacey pull one of the more amazing acting feats imaginable. If you’ve ever enjoyed Spacey’s startlingly accurate impressions of people like Jimmy Stewart and Al Pacino, you REALLY need to see him execute the subtle twist of Spacey playing a character doing the impressions. In exloring some of Abramoff’s background – which I was only superficially aware of prior to recently – a vague obsession brewed within me. I’m certainly not here to re-indict him; for one thing, he actually served time, which is a little unusual for a figure in his former world. And for another thing, the hypocrites like John McCain who helped put him away should probably be in jail themselves for the rest of eternity merely on the basis of their crimes against basic human integrity. No, the disturbing thing is that on some level I actually found myself liking the guy. Not because I was falling for his “bad guy making good” routine, but because his story is such a classic example of tragically flawed heroism and a dramatic display of the Jungian Shadow at work. As an example of the latter, his recent involvement with efforts to raise awareness about DC corruption – like writing for United Re:Public  – come across with a lack of fire that suggests he’s really just playing the repentant crook role as well as he played the nuclear-powered lobbyist role. One is easily left with the sense that inside all the bluster and larger than life stories, there’s a fairly genuine guy. A fairly genuine guy who believed in everything he ever did. I’m left with a lot more understanding of the weaknesses of human character that enabled the man to do the things he did, but also the feeling that the only person that will ever really love Jack Abramoff is Jack Abramoff.

Abramoff’s appearance on the Colbert Report highlights the intrinsic satire of Abramoff’s career…