Abramoff is known everywhere but in two buildings, that is: the United States Capitol and the White House. Sure, he spread around millions of Indian-tribe dollars, to say nothing of golf trips to Scotland and free meals at Signatures, his own fancy restaurant, and luxury-box seats at sporting events—American Indians, of all people, paying for Redskins tickets—among roughly 270 members of Congress. Sure, a few senators and representatives admit to having brushed up against Abramoff, but only long enough for him to have “duped” or “misled” them. And President Bush can barely remember him: for a couple of Hanukkahs, Abramoff apparently stood on gripand-
grin lines at the White House to be photographedwith the president, but almost anybody can do that.
Being airbrushed out of a whole community in which he cut so wide a swath for the past 10 years, where he helped revolutionize lobbying, where he was very nearly ubiquitous and invincible—it’s enough to hurt someone’s feelings. On other matters related to his situation he tiptoes, as would anyone whose fate—the amount of time he will languish in prison—lies in the hands of prosecutors and the judge. But for someone who has fought his whole career to be acknowledged and respected and feared, being treated like a nonperson is simply too much to take. “For a guy who did all these evil things that have been so widely reported, it’s pretty amazing, considering
I didn’t know anyone,” Abramoff says sardonically. “You’re really no one in this town unless you haven’t met me.”