January 22, 2006

The Meet & Greet Crashers

Hatched by Dafydd

Now it's Time Magazine's turn to make a silk purse out of a molehole.

The screaming headline -- When George Met Jack -- promises all the hot, dripping scandal of a National Enquirer cover story:

White House aides deny the President knew lobbyist Abramoff, but unpublished photos shown to TIME suggest there's more to the story

by Adam Zagorin and Mike Allen

Jan. 22, 2006

As details poured out about the illegal and unseemly activities of Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff, White House officials sought to portray the scandal as a Capitol Hill affair with little relevance to them. Peppered for days with questions about Abramoff's visits to the White House, press secretary Scott McClellan said the now disgraced lobbyist had attended two huge holiday receptions and a few "staff-level meetings" that were not worth describing further. "The President does not know him, nor does the President recall ever meeting him," McClellan said.

The President's memory may soon be unhappily refreshed. TIME has seen five photographs of Abramoff and the President that suggest a level of contact between them that Bush's aides have downplayed.

Of course, the very next sentence is "While TIME's source refused to provide the pictures for publication, they are likely to see the light of day eventually because celebrity tabloids are on the prowl for them." Is anybody surprised?

And that has been a fear of the Bush team's for the past several months: that a picture of the President with the admitted felon could become the iconic image of direct presidential involvement in a burgeoning corruption scandal like the shots of President Bill Clinton at White House coffees for campaign contributors in the mid-1990s.

Nevertheless, even without being able to show us the money shots, Time's description of them makes it brutally clear that, like most bank robbers, all it can pull out of its pocket is a hand with some fingers on it. Here is the damning evidence of the intimate conspiracy between Jack Abramoff and George W. Bush:

[Page 1] In one shot that TIME saw, Bush appears with Abramoff, several unidentified people and Raul Garza Sr., a Texan Abramoff represented who was then chairman of the Kickapoo Indians, which owned a casino in southern Texas....

[Page 3] Through his spokesman, Garza said that during the session, Bush talked about policy matters and thanked those present for supporting his agenda, then took questions from the audience of about two dozen people.... No evidence has emerged that the Bush Administration has done anything for the Kickapoo at Abramoff's behest.

The other four photos are simply the sort of meet & greet photos that everyone who attends any White House event takes with the president -- literally tens of thousands every year:

Another photo shows Bush shaking hands with Abramoff in front of a window and a blue drape. The shot bears Bush's signature, perhaps made by a machine. Three other photos are of Bush, Abramoff and, in each view, one of the lobbyist's sons (three of his five children are boys)....

Most of the pictures have the formal look of photos taken at presidential receptions. The images of Bush, Abramoff and one of his sons appear to be the rapid-fire shots--known in White House parlance as clicks-- that the President snaps with top supporters before taking the podium at fund-raising receptions. Over five years, Bush has posed for tens of thousands of such shots--many with people he does not know. Last month 9,500 people attended holiday receptions at the White House, and most went two by two through a line for a photo with the President and the First Lady. The White House is generous about providing copies--in some cases, signed by the President--that become centerpieces for "walls of fame" throughout status-conscious Washington.

And that's it! Really, that's the entire scandal: that Jack Abramoff, a high-powered lobbyist who also raised some money for Bush, was invited to (or crashed) at least one White House reception at which he -- and the hundreds of other attendees -- filed past President Bush and got an assembly-line photo of Bush shaking hands (in Abramoff's case, he crassly demanded another photo with each of his three sons... and Bush was gracious enough to comply).

Quelle horror!

Next week, it will be Newsweek's turn to treat us to the Bush scandal du jour: documentary evidence will emerge -- which, we'll be told, is the worst nightmare of Bush aides -- that Bush on several occasions deliberately gave speeches, without disavowing his connection, before groups of students attending institutions that at one time in their past denied entry to women... such as West Point, Anapolis, and the Air Force Academy.

"An intellectual carrot... the mind boggles!"

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 22, 2006, at the time of 6:18 PM

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The following hissed in response by: Stephen Macklin

No doubt there was so little to the photos that Time wasn't willing to cut a large enough check. Their write up of the photos will do nicely though since all a lot of people will remember was that Bush had his photo taken with Abramoff.

The above hissed in response by: Stephen Macklin [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 22, 2006 6:58 PM

The following hissed in response by: napablogger

good job running down those photo stats! One more biased anti Bush article to continue to cloud the truth, thanks to Time a supposed news source.

The above hissed in response by: napablogger [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 23, 2006 12:04 AM

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