I'm starting to feel sorry for Jack Abramoff. He's living out one of my favorite songs. "What Have You Done For Me Lately," by Steve Goodman describes the short time that gratitude lasts.
Up until the wheels started to fall off Jack was one popular guy. His restaurant was packed with the powerful and the hangers-on of the powerful. His phones rang constantly, his e-mail buzzed and his picture hung in offices across Washington.
Now he sits alone, pondering a future that includes bed checks and pressed ham lunches and wonders where it all went.
There are those who say he brought it onto himself, that by bragging about his influence he made himself too large a target to ignore. A fall to hubris is one of the oldest themes in epic tragedy.
He was a hero of the administration, a Pioneer, perhaps a Ranger. These are the movers and shakers who traded money for access. They are the ones who bundled soft money for Bush-Cheney on the understanding that they could trade it for face time for clients. Chicago Shorty wrote that, with time, "Their faces grow long and their memories grow short." Bush claims that he wouldn't know Jack Abramoff and certainly never met him. His aide, Erin Healy, said Thursday that Bush didn't consider Abramoff a friend. "They may have met on occasion, but the president does not know him," she said.
A couple of hundred grand no longer makes an impression, I guess, on a President who squanders billions.
Mark Graul certainly sought favors from Abramoff and now says that he wouldn't know the man if he walked into the room. There is a word for someone who sells favors to a stranger for something of value, but I won't use it here because this is about the sorry state of Jack not the sorry state of Mark.
Abramoff becomes a tragic figure, not sympathetic but tragic, as he waits for the time to go Judas on those he thought were his friends. He's surely remembering the Old Testament now. Hosea railed against idolaters, those who would set up false gods, "For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind."
I just think about Steve Goodman singing, "You cast your bread on the water and what do you get? A hard luck story and your bread gets wet." Jack is waiting now, wondering when the whirlwind is coming in earnest.