As the field of potential presidential candidates narrows, let me throw out a possibility no one else has considered – convicted felon Jack Abramoff.
I mean, Abramoff can't even vote after serving nearly four years in prison for wheeling and dealing as America's most successful lobbyist – even though the actual charges upon which he was convicted are a little vague in the minds of most of us. But he can't run for president. He can't qualify for the ballot. And he cannot legally serve.
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I think that's right and just. And, I believe, Jack Abramoff would agree with me. Since getting out of prison and losing all of his material wealth, Abramoff has done his best to expose the roots of corruption in Washington, to reveal its ugly and insidious tentacles, to show how nothing has changed since his conviction and to suggest things might even be worse. Few white-collar criminals have been as repentant as Abramoff. But, then again, few have been more vilified by politicians and political activists who turn a blind eye to corruption far more worrisome.
While we don't have to concern ourselves with Jack Abramoff being elected president, let's compare the offenses he committed with the actions of the current resident of the White House – a man seeking re-election to the job.
- How about Barack Obama taking hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from officials and investors in a solar power company called Solyndra and then greasing the skids for a $528 million loan guarantee by taxpayers for a project passed over by the previous administration. Obama personally visited the plant to boast about this "public-private partnership" in developing green technology. When Solyndra defaulted on loan repayments, the Obama administration encouraged the company to seek private investment to keep the company afloat – and made that easy by giving those new investors preference over taxpayers should the company fail. To avoid a political scandal that could impact the 2010 elections, the Obama administration also asked Solyndra officials to delay a bankruptcy announcement until after the vote. This kind of corruption – rewarding campaign contributors with taxpayer dollars that are wasted in clearly non-viable enterprises – makes anything Jack Abramoff did look like "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington."
- How about the Obama administration program that sold automatic weapons to Mexican drug cartel killers, some of which were used to murder Americans, including at least one law-enforcement official. The project was overseen by Obama's attorney general, Eric Holder, so prosecutions are unlikely. Congressional investigations have been stonewalled by the Obama administration without a fraction of the media attention devoted to the Abramoff inquisition.
- How about the Obama administration intervening on behalf of LightSquared, a broadband company backed by Philip Falcone, a major Democratic political contributor. The White House has stonewalled congressional investigations into allegations it coerced an Air Force general to change his congressional testimony to make it more supportive of the company. In September, Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., accused President Obama of "crony capitalism" for allegedly giving favor to his political supporters, pointing to LightSquared's primary investor, Falcone.
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I could go on with a mega-count indictment of Obama for gross misuse of his official power during his three years in office. But I think you get the point.
What's worse – what Jack Abramoff did to clients willing to pay millions in non-taxpayer funds for his private services or the way Barack Obama, in his official capacity, has used old-fashioned, Chicago-style tactics to loot the public treasury?