May 4, 2005

Crying Shame


Three cheers for Michael Crowley’s piece in the NYT Magazine this weekend exposing the pathetic dealings and decrepit character of lobbyist Jack Abramoff, Tom DeLay’s high flight bagman.

But, how many cheers for the photograph?

On one level, the image couldn’t fit the story more closely.  His game up, his reputation ruined, his dirty dealings trickling into the national spotlight in a daily drip, this poor wimp is playing the “pity card” as if he had a full deck of them. 

But what if the people who digested the article couldn’t quite read the irony in the picture?  Or, what of those who saw the picture alone?  Is the confidence man’s expression phony enough or overplayed enough or over-the-top enough to to actually give him away?

It’s one thing to put together a verbal picture of a person who has convinced himself he’s an “innocent victim.”  The question, however, is how well the words stack up against the unshaven, hair-mussed, open-collared, anguish-browed, contrite-mouthed, plaintive-eyed composition Abramoff attempts to pass off at “face value.” 

By the way, the article has a nice quote about Abramoff by a “conservative activist” who has apparently known him for more than twenty years.  It says: 

”He always dressed incredibly well, even when he was a kid….  He was always more stylish than Brooks Brothers. The hair was immovable, always done up. I don’t think I ever saw him not in a suit.”

(image : David Burnett – May 1, 2005 in The New York Times Magazine.)

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Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

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