Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind

The best and brightest of the White House continue to develop selective Ronzheimer's Disease:

WASHINGTON -- When the government of Malaysia sought to repair its tarnished image in the U.S. by arranging a meeting between President Bush and its controversial prime minister in 2002, it followed the same strategy as many other well-heeled interests in Washington: It called on lobbyist Jack Abramoff for help.

It was a tall order. The then-prime minister, Mahathir Mohamad, had been chastised by the Clinton administration for repeated anti-Semitic statements and for jailing political opponents. But it was important to the Malaysians, according to a former Abramoff associate who attended meetings with the Malaysian ambassador and the lobbyist.

Abramoff contacted presidential advisor Karl Rove on at least four occasions to help arrange a meeting, the witness said.

Finally, the former associate said, Rove's office called to tell Abramoff that the Malaysian leader soon would be getting an official White House invitation.


Apart from the direct contacts between Rove and Abramoff, the former associate's description of the Malaysia episode was backed by another former Abramoff associate and by documents released last year by the Senate Indian Affairs Committee.

Both said Abramoff talked of his access to Rove and cited his relationship with Susan Ralston, Rove's administrative assistant. Before joining the White House staff, Ralston was an assistant to Abramoff.

One of the former associates said Abramoff referred to Ralston as his "implant" in the White House.

A White House spokeswoman, Erin Healy, said Tuesday that Rove had "no recollection" of any conversations with Abramoff regarding the Malaysian meeting.

And the e-mails, no doubt, have already been scrubbed.

Abramoff, the proud purchaser of Talmudic scholarship credentials, had no problems with Malaysia as a client:

On one occasion, Abramoff -- an orthodox Jew and a supporter of Israel -- was asked whether he was comfortable representing a country led by a man known for anti-Semitic comments.

Abramoff responded, "They pay their bills on time."

Spoken like a true Republican.

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