When I wasn't watching the Harry Reid-Sharron Angle clash of the titans last night, and while I certainly did have a beer in hand (a new-to-me, and interesting Sam Adams "seasonal" -- Latitude 48 IPA), I felt vaguely guilty and thought I should be doing something political-season related.
So instead I watched the DVD of Alex Gibney's documentary about Jack Abramoff, Casino Jack and the United States of Money. I had missed it when it was in theaters this spring and am very glad to have caught up with it now. Indeed, my modest proposals for improving this election season would be to replace all upcoming senatorial, congressional, and gubernatorial debates with screenings of this film. Even though I'd been on-scene in DC when the real events it describes were unfolding, it made the scale and squalor of the corruption vivid in way they had never been for me before.
And it seems relevant at this moment, because a number of the same personalities are still around, and nearly all of the same issues. I had not absorb how fully Ambramoff had been part of the early Reagan movement (with Grover Norquist, a kind of co-villain of the movie). In watching the surge of the Gingrichites in 1994, leading to their takeover of control of the House, it's hard not to think of parallels to this year's election.