January 11, 2001
Unlike daily editorial cartoonists, I rarely have the luxury of commenting on events in an up to the minute fashion--due to the mundane details of weekly paper deadlines and my own distribution process, these cartoons usually appear a week or two after I finish them.
And sometimes I miss the boat--such as the time I noted in an offhand manner that the impeachment of Bill Clinton had obviously been derailed, as any moron could clearly see...a week before he was, in fact, impeached.
Well, in those murky prehistoric times (last week) when I wrote the Enron cartoon, the scandal seemed to mostly be passing unnoticed, apart from a few prescient observations from writers such as Robert Scheer and Molly Ivins and Joe Conason and Tom Frank, and in my admitted cynicism, I assumed that partriotic correctness would stifle any serious investigation into what is self-evidently one of the largest campaign finance scandals in the history of this nation.
Well, mea goddamn culpa.
Almost literally overnight, the Enron scandal has broken big, and the Bushies are scrambling to play defense. Investigations are popping up like mushrooms after a hard rain, and half the administration has to recuse itself due to conflict of interest.
And my line that "we can't afford a divisive investigation like this during wartime" turns out to have been about as off-base as it is possible to be. I admit it. I didn't see this one coming.
I am, to paraphrase the good Doctor McCoy, a cartoonist, not a fortune teller.
We'll see where this thing goes from here. The Bushies are spinning furiously--George W. even went so far as to make the ludicrous claim that longtime Republican player Ken Lay was really more of an Ann Richards supporter. (That sound you hear in the distance is the political class of Texas rolling on the floor in laughter. )
Sure, Enron spread the largess around both parties--that's standard operating procedure. But 72% of Enron money went to Republicans. Both parties may be equally beholden to corporate money, but I will risk another prognostication and state it baldly: this particular little mess is a millstone tied squarely and securely to the thrashing body of the Republican Party. And it is going to drag them down.
For instance--and this is just one small element of a wide-ranging tableau--as I also noted in the cartoon, Phil Gramm's wife Wendy helped exempt Enron from certain key regulations in 1993--an exemption which helped make this whole debacle possible--and five weeks later *joined Enron's board of directors.* She continued to hold that post while her husband Phil served on the Senate Banking Committee. Can *you* say "conflict of interest"?
And do you maybe begin to understand why, a few months ago, Phil Gramm suddenly decided to end his career in the Senate?
Stay tuned. This looks like it's going to get a lot more interesting than even I imagined.
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