George and Jack, Sitting in a Tree…

Time reports that the White House may soon have a difficult time continuing to claim that the President doesn’t know Jack Abramoff:

TIME has seen five photographs of Abramoff and the President that suggest a level of contact between them that Bush's aides have downplayed. 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. 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.

Nice gratuitous Clinton reference. Remember how Clinton was impeached for the great Coffee Klatch Scandal of ’95? Yeah, me neither.


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. Garza, who is wearing jeans and a bolo tie in the picture, told TIME that Bush greeted him as "Jefe," or "chief" in Spanish. 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). A sixth picture shows several Abramoff children with Bush and House Speaker Dennis Hastert, who is now pushing to tighten lobbying laws after declining to do so last year when the scandal was in its early stages.
I predict that when these photos inevitably surface, the White House will easily dismiss them with a line like, “The President meets thousands of people. That doesn’t mean he has a personal relationship with every one of them.” At which point, the question should become: But how many of them were part of the president’s transition team into the White House and then later flagrantly abused their positions?

It doesn’t really matter if they only ever met in passing or used to have secret midnight trysts under the presidential portrait of Taft (that saucy minx). Does the buck stop with the president or doesn’t it?

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