Masters of Sleaze

The cognitive dissonance has finally overwhelmed poor Brooks. Schiavo, DeLay, Medicare, Bolton -- a lesser man would have buckled long ago. The surprise, however, is that the cognitive won! When a prominent conservative writes a column this blistering, CW is shifting. Abramoff and Reed might want to cash in the chits and go work for the CPA -- I hear the heathens need some preachin'. And DeLay? He's readying to make Newt's tumble look like an honorable discharge...

Update: I agree with Brad Plumer, and many of you in the comments, that Brooks is consciously sparing the Republican party and trying to quarantine this behavior to a few dirty lobbyists he can tut-tut at, right before returning to have tea with the rest of the right. Frankly, that's fine. Look -- you could set your watch by Brooks's hackitude. Whenever the world around becomes too chaotic to bear, I reach for his columns, luxuriating in the knowledge that no matter what else is occurring, it is somehow related to a minor personality quirk in Republicans and the prevalence of psychopathic traits in Democrats. So I don't expect Brooks to peek out of his hole, see Reed's shadow, and take a knife to his throat. I expect him to dive back down and ignore six more weeks of scandal.

That the CW has tipped enough so Brooks, arbiter of the conventional that he's become, has landed on Abramson and Reed and wrestled them into chokeholds is plenty for me. Because his involvement increases the pressure on them, and thus on their story. And as the billions of reporters begin to swarm, they're going to need to find new angles to make their stories fresh. The rampant and unmistakable connections between the scandal-plagued Tom DeLay and Abramson, a lobbyist so favored that DeLay would sing him lullabies at night, assure that some enterprising young guns will begin to roto-rooter around Tom's "kitchen sink", and what they come up with will make all this gambling stuff look like mere prelude. Brooks isn't the final word, but his column brings judgment day closer.