Tuesday, June 27, 2006

It's the Corruption, Stupid

In all the folderol over Kos, the original issue has become somewhat buried - the news of Jerome Armstrong's SEC conviction. Neil the Ethical Werewolf posted an interesting but fundamentally misguided argument on Ezra Klein's blog. He makes a claim that Kos is being influenced by Armstrong to uncritically promote Mark Warner's campaign. It is hedged about with caveats and maybes and so forth, but his basic argument is don't buy what Kos peddles about Warner because he stands in relation to Warner as the scammed stock-buyers stood in relation to the Bluepoint offerings, someone duped by Armstrong against his best interests.


There's a very serious issue with Mr. Armstrong, but it is not Markos saying nice things about Mark Warner. First of all, if a person is only now calling Kos' judgment into question, they either need to up their meds or get some new ones. This is the guy who publically called Maureen Dowd a bitch because she wrote a typically catty article on him. Like, Kos, dude, have you never heard about these newspaper thingies? Don't you pay attention to how they operate and what the different columnists' schticks are? You need to keep up with the times... [Removing tongue from cheek] In a strange way, I feel better about Kos for supporting Armstrong because it demonstrates how he treats his friends, with loyalty and trust. One can argue he should pick better friends, but then, isn't that true of everyone? Nor am I particularly perturbed by Kos strongly promoting candidates connected to Armstrong. Why not? It's a known quantity. Their business and personal connections are no secret, and I can factor that knowledge into any promotion. Frankly, if somone is so unthinking that s/he blindly supports whomever Kos says to, that's the supporter's problem and s/he would be likely to engage in similar behavior with another online celebrity.

The issue here is with Mark Warner's judgment and the issue is corruption.

DC is awash in the pay-to-play scandals of the K Street Project. Can we say Abramoff? Norquist? Ralph Reed? Duke Cunningham? Scams? Fornigate? Influence peddling and sale of access to elected officials? Hiring Jerome Armstrong as a consultant is a black mark against Warner because of the nature of the SEC conviction - conning people for a price, which is another way of saying Armstrong's integrity is for sale. Warner evidently does not mind having such a person on his payroll.

It matters who a candidate has around them. Isn't one of the objections of the left blogosphere the undue influence of political consultants on candidates? Well, this situation should be part of that objection. As long as Armstrong is playing a prominent role in the Warner campaign, I cross Warner off my list of acceptable candidates in order to protect my own interests. Is that unfair to Warner and/or Armstrong? Not really. They must have weighed the advantages and benefits of working together, and the objection of voters like myself to Jerome's criminal conviction was factored into that decision. Unless Warner hired Armstrong with no knowledge of the SEC conviction, in which case he will have to determine whether he, too, was scammed.

None of this, however, has anything to do with Markos. That's a whole 'nuther kettle of fish.


Update: Edited to be less accusatory towards Neil. I have no beef with him, only a difference of perspective on what matters to the left in the news about Armstrong.

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