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October 24 , 2009

The Perfect Villain

John McCain and the Demonization of Lobbyist Jack Abramoff


Gary S. Chafetz, a Boston journalist, set out to chronicle the scandal involving the gun-for-hire and super-lobbyist, Jack Abramoff. Instead, he uncovered a Shakespearean tragedy of deceit, betrayal, and political vendetta, in which the true villains were 2008 Republican nominee for President, Sen. John McCain; The Washington Post newspaper; and the US Department of Justice – all of whom participated in the railroading of an essentially innocent man. (Abramoff's transgressions were minor.) Chafetz benefited from exclusive and unconditional secret access to Abramoff and to many never-before-released documents (Chafetz interviewed Abramoff – without the knowledge of the prosecutors with whom he was cooperating or his own lawyers – for two years, both before and during his imprisonment.) The blizzard of stories – Abramoff even graced the cover of Time Magazine – painted Abramoff as an implausibly greedy lobbyist who cheated Indian tribes, bribed politicians, and corrupted the political process – a fascinating tale, but, ultimately, untrue. The true story, that Chafetz recounts in The Perfect Villain, is an even more riveting and compelling story.

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