It's About More Than Abramoff

Monday, October 16, 2006

It's About More Than Abramoff

As a follow-up to my last post about the email trail linking Jack Abramoff and Ken Mehlman (pictured at right), let's recognize that this is only partly about the sleaze of influence-peddling.

It's also about the values that guide a political party.

Bear in mind that Mehlman was helping Abramoff and his clients maintain the status quo on the Northern Mariana Islands. The mostly immigrant workers employed by clothing producers on those islands were:
  • getting paid well below the U.S. minimum wage
  • forced to work 12-hour days, and
  • were living behind barbed wire in squalid conditions without indoor plumbing
So here you have Mehlman, the national chairman of the Republican Party, ordering — on Abramoff's behalf — that a State Department employee be fired because he was interferring with these sweatshop conditions.

Does the GOP have any sense of shame?

Aren't the facts of this matter (U.S. officials providing cover for sweatshop activities) enough, without the Abramoff link, to prompt Mehlman's resignation?

My answers are: Not really and No.

It's appalling that the Republican National Committee can say it supports efforts abroad to encourage democracy and other basic American values, when its chairman has protected sweatshop conditions abroad that we would never tolerate on our own shores.

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