The K-Street Emails

Brian Cook

The New York Times today ran a front-page story that details lobbyist Jack Abramoff giving free meals at his upscale D.C. restaurant to many of his friends in Congress, including House majority leader, Tom Delay. The paper appears to have a "smoking gun" in the form of an email Abramoff sent to his restaurant staff that reads: Subject: Tom and Christine DeLay Want to come in Thursday, May 9, 7PM. Table of 6, put it where I sit and remove that other table. Their meal is to be comped. Thanks, But while the liberal media will be spending the next few days asking such questions as "What did DeLay know?" and "When did he know it?," we in the blogosphere should not jump to such hasty conclusions, and instead examine the email more closely, specifically, the phrase "Their meal is to be comped," and in particular, the word "comped." Those of us in the lefty press who have to subsidize our meagre incomes (and keep our class animus nice and honed) by working at restaurants understand that the word "comp" has dual connotations, much like, say, the word "fixed." "Fixed" of course could mean "changing so as to be more aligned with certain, preconceived notions," but more likely, particularly when used in Britian, it simply means "set." The same is true for "comp." "Comped" in this case could be short for "compensated" (i.e. "not charged"), but as most restaurants today use "comp"uters to punch in orders and charge for them, it's just as likely that all good ol' Mr. Abramoff intended by the term was to remind his staff to enter the meals of Tom and Christine DeLay into the computer, thus charging them. After all, Jack Abramoff is a restuarant owner, a capitalist entrepenuer, and you don't make money by giving meals away. The burden of proof in this case still falls on the prosecution, I'm afraid. Of course, should they ever come up with such irrefutable evidence, I would still have another question: Why are we even talking about this? Everybody knows Tom DeLay is as corrupt as the day is long! Hell, I compared him unfavorably to a "piece of shit" months ago, and Lou Dubose and Jan Reid detailed DeLay's crimes against man and nature at length in The Hammer, a redoubtable book that was published last year! In short, this is old news! Unless the MSM can uncover a new crime of DeLay, and relay it instantaneously as it occurs, I'm afraid we American citizens will want no part in besmirching the reputation of Tom DeLay. After all, we are a forward-looking people, not a backward-looking one, and while the "reality-based" community might still be caught up in that tired old game of "cause and effect," (brought to you by Rene Descartes, a Frenchman!), those of us living in the new, virtual paradigm can rest assured that things simply happen, and that no one (in power) should be held accountable for their actions.

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Brian Cook was an editor at In These Times from 2003 to 2009. He now works on the editorial staff of Playboy magazine.
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