Matthews on Abramoff scandal: "[D]on't you have to be a real ideologue, a real partisan to believe that one party's more crooked than the other?"

Video ››› ››› JEREMY SCHULMAN

MSNBC host Chris Matthews asked "[D]on't you have to be a real ideologue, a real partisan to believe that one party's more crooked than the other?"

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During a discussion of the Jack Abramoff scandal on the January 11 edition of MSNBC's Hardball, host Chris Matthews asked Cook Political Report editor and publisher Charlie Cook: "Charlie, don't you have to be a real ideologue, a real partisan to believe that one party's more crooked than the other? In terms of -- not in terms of ideas or of philosophy, but taking cash home with you and stuff like that?" Cook responded: "Yes, but the thing is, I think the country's more ideological in that sense, more partisan in that sense, than it's ever been before."

Earlier in the discussion, Matthews had asked Rothenberg Political Report editor and publisher Stuart Rothenberg: "Will the stink of Abramoff ... hurt both parties, or is this primarily a Republican problem?" Rothenberg responded that "right now, it's primarily a Republican problem." Rothenberg noted that Republicans "have much greater vulnerability," adding that "the high-profile members of Congress who are mentioned as under the microscope at the moment are virtually all Republicans."

At least one prominent conservative has asserted that efforts to label the Abramoff scandal as anything other than Republican were "misdirect[ed]." In his January 10 column, subtitled "It's the Republicans, stupid," National Review editor Rich Lowry wrote that the Abramoff scandal "is, in its essence, a Republican scandal, and any attempt to portray it otherwise is a misdirection." Lowry added:


Abramoff is a Republican who worked closely with two of the country's most prominent conservative activists, Grover Norquist and Ralph Reed. Top aides to the most important Republican in Congress, Tom DeLay (R., Tex.) were party to his sleazy schemes. The only people referred to directly in Abramoff's recent plea agreement are a Republican congressmen and two former Republican congressional aides. The GOP members can make a case that the scandal reflects more the way Washington works than the unique perfidy of their party, but even this is self-defeating, since Republicans run Washington.

From the January 11 edition of MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews:

MATTHEWS: Will the stink of Abramoff, as we assume it's going to, lead to more indictment, or indictments, I should say? Is this going to hurt both parties, or is this primarily a Republican problem?

ROTHENBERG: Well, right now it's primarily a Republican problem. They have much greater vulnerability; the high-profile members of Congress who are mentioned as under the microscope at the moment are virtually all Republicans. [Rep.] Tom DeLay [R-TX], [Rep.] Bob Ney [R-OH], [Sen.] Conrad Burns [R-MT], [Rep.] John Doolittle [R-CA].

MATTHEWS: [Rep.] J.D. Hayworth [R-AZ] is on that list, too.

ROTHENBERG: There are some Democrats involved, but at the moment, the focus is on the Republicans.

MATTHEWS: Can you go down, as a member of Congress, because you took some money from a lobbyist, even if it's for campaign expenses?

ROTHENBERG: You can go down if the public desires change and if the Republicans are tagged with corruption. The Democrats have done a nice job talking for months about the Republican quote-unquote "culture of corruption." And if voters want change, you can go down if you just take a campaign contribution.

MATTHEWS: Charlie, don't you have to be a real ideologue, a real partisan to believe that one party's more crooked than the other? In terms of -- not in terms of ideas or of philosophy, but taking cash home with you and stuff like that?

COOK: Yes, but the thing is, I think the country's more ideological in that sense, more partisan in that sense, than it's ever been before.

MATTHEWS: So Republicans think Democrats are crooks and the other way around?

COOK: Right, yeah. I mean, today, that's part of the problem we have today, is today nobody's wrong, they're evil.

Posted In
Elections
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Chris Matthews
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Hardball
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Abramoff Scandal
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