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Playing Dumb: Bush on Abramoff, Lay and Libby

February 9, 2006

Facing increasing pressure over his ties to convicted Republican uber lobbyist Jack Abramoff, George W. Bush is doing what comes naturally: playing dumb. And why not? It worked for him with Ken Lay and the Valerie Plame leak.
On January 26th, President Bush denied any relationship with Abramoff, a "Pioneeer" who raised over $100,000 for his reelection campaign:

"You know, I, frankly, don't even remember having my picture taken with the guy. I don't know him."

Sadly for the President, a mountain of evidence shows otherwise. As The Washingtonian and ThinkProgress have documented (and others are now broadly reporting), Abramoff in recent emails admits to meeting Bush "in almost a dozen settings."
If history is any guide, President Bush will continue to plead ignorance. After the implosion of Enron, the President on January 10, 2002 claimed to have no relationship with Bush family friend and 2000 campaign "Ranger" Ken Lay:

"I got to know Ken Lay when he was the head of the-what they call the Governor's Business Council in Texas. He was a supporter of Ann Richards in my run in 1994. And she had named him the head of the Governor's Business Council. And I decided to leave him in place, just for the sake of continuity. And that's when I first got to know Ken."

President Bush also used the Sgt. Schultz defense ("I know nothing!") in the wake of the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame. On October 7, 2003, Bush declared nonchalantly of the leaker in his administration:

"I don't know if we're going to find out the senior administration official. Now, this is a large administration, and there's a lot of senior officials. I don't have any idea. I'd like to. I want to know the truth."

As the Daily Show's Jon Stewart might say, "not so much." But don't expect any change from the White House and Scott McClellan's "I'm with stupid" line. After all, it's working for them.


About

Jon Perr
Jon Perr is a technology marketing consultant and product strategist who writes about American politics and public policy.

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