Both the Washington Post and the Seattle P-I report today on the continuing saga of two of Tom DeLay’s croniest cronies with Northwest connections: former Preston Gates & Ellis uber-lobbyist Jack Abramoff, and his good buddy, Mercer Island rabbi and vanity talk-radio host, Daniel Lapin. At a Senate hearing yesterday on allegations that Abramoff defrauded Indian Tribes of tens of millions of dollars — some of it funneled through groups connected to DeLay, Ralph Reed and other prominent right-wingers — an e-mail exchange was introduced in which Abramoff asked the good rabbi to phony up some fake awards to help him gain membership at a ritzy D.C. club.
“I hate to ask you for your help with something so silly but I’ve been nominated for membership in the Cosmos Club, which is a very distinguished club in Washington, DC, comprised of Nobel Prize winners, etc.,” Abramoff wrote. “Problem for me is that most prospective members have received awards and I have received none. I was wondering if you thought it possible that I could put that I have received an award from Toward Tradition with a sufficiently academic title, perhaps something like Scholar of Talmudic Studies?”
There were titters in the audience as Sen. Byron L. Dorgan (D-N.D.) read aloud the e-mail, then outright laughter as he continued reading: “Indeed, it would be even better if it were possible that I received these in years past, if you know what I mean.”
The rabbi, conservative radio host Daniel Lapin, gave his blessing. “I just need to know what needs to be produced,” he wrote. “Letters? Plaques?”
“The point of all of this,” Dorgan said, “is there’s a lot of deception going on.”
No shit, Sherlock.
Rabbi Lapin’s history of deceit, self-aggrandizement and profiteering is so extensive, he’s even earned his own category over on blatherWatch. It was Lapin who first introduced Abramoff to DeLay, and it was Abramoff who helped Lapin establish his very profitable, theo-con not-for-profit organization, Toward Tradition. Their mutual back-scratching has helped make both men wealthy and politically connected, so really… what’s a fake award or two between friends?
Don’t be confused by the title “Rabbi” before Lapin’s name; it doesn’t automatically make a man moral or wise. Lapin is above all, a self-serving, well-connected, right-wing operative with his fingers in local politics as well as national. He even played a role in drumming up false outrage over last November’s gubernatorial election, using his radio show as a forum for promoting the NW blogosphere’s most famous conspiracy theorist, and even joining Stefan as a featured speaker at January’s ridiculous, Ukrainian-themed “Re-Vote” rally, where he inflamed a crowd already fired up on lies about disenfranchised military voters, by paraphrasing John Merrick: “We are not animals! We are humans touched by the finger of GOD!!”
Rabbi Lapin shows off “the finger of God.” [photo courtesy (un)Sound Politics]
Our good friend Stefan’s man-crush on Lapin borders on sycophancy (a quick search of (u)SP finds a dozen posts since the beginning of the year mentioning the good Rabbi.) Indeed, not only does Lapin’s angry mix of angry zionism and angry free market determinism appear to drive Stefan’s angry worldview, Lapin has literally driven Stefan himself… chauffeuring “Aluminum Hat Boy” to the Re-Vote rally. (The Rabbi is not only a shrewd political operative who has made himself rich playing the role of the Jewish shill for the Christian far-right, but according to Stefan, he’s also an “excellent driver.”)
That Rabbi Lapin should be assumed to have any moral authority is a joke, given his record of lies, deceit and political machinations. If his career is not actually destroyed by the Abramoff scandal, whatever is left of his credibility should be.