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Jewish World Review Nov. 5, 1999 /24 Mar-Cheshvan, 5760

Michelle Malkin

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Spooky Guy Haunts the Capital -- HALLOWEEN'S OVER, but there are spooks aplenty here in the nation's capital. Gather 'round for a frightful tale of how one former Republican revolutionary came back from the dead to haunt the halls of power as an immortal K Street vampire.

His name is Bill Paxon. Cable-TV junkies may stumble onto his smug yuppie mug now and then. He's the former New York congressman who helped Newt Gingrich rise to power, plotted a failed coup against him, abruptly resigned his seat last year, and then, disappeared into the Buffalo sunset.

If only we were so lucky. Paxon resurrected himself, and now his name, face, and money-grubbing prowess are inescapable inside the Beltway. Why didn't he return to the productive life of a private citizen? Because he never had one. Since graduating from college 21 years ago, Paxon has had one occupation, and one preoccupation only: government.

After resigning his congressional seat and swearing off any future runs for public office, he did what know-nothing ex-politicians do around here: He sold out his ideological principles for a few pieces of silver.

The 45-year-old former bag man for the GOP is now a "senior adviser" at Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld - one of the most powerful lawyer-lobbyist firms in town. The company's primary access peddler is Bob Strauss, former Democratic National Committee chairman. Paxon also works - if one can call it that - alongside chief Clinton enabler Vernon ("I was pleased to be helpful to Ms. Monica Lewinsky, whose drive, ambition and personality were impressive") Jordan.

At Gump & Co., Paxon reportedly makes upwards of $750,000 a year to hobnob with his old pals on Capitol Hill. He has no law degree, no private-sector expertise and no intellectual capital whatsoever to call his own. Paxon does, however, have a big, fat Rolodex and that coveted insider commodity: access. His life is dedicated not to dismantling the wheels of government, but to greasing them.

Paxon's wife and former GOP congresswoman, Susan Molinari (a Katie Couric Lite of The Right) has also transformed herself into a leeching lobbyist. So much for the Republican revolution.

The D.C. press corps has dubbed Paxon the "comeback kid" and the "shadow speaker." Earlier this summer, he scored a fawning, 3,000-word profile in Capital Style, a glossy, political gossip magazine. And this month, he made the cover of The New Republic, D.C.'s weekly hotbed of plagiarism, fantasy writers and Al Gore sycophants.

It is hard to say which is more pathetic - the gushing from reporters, or from Paxon's former colleagues. "He's got the perfect situation," Rep. Jennifer Dunn of Washington state told The New Republic. "He's sittin' in the catbird's seat," chimed Illinois Rep. Ray LaHood.

What is it that these elected representatives envy so much about Paxon? They undoubtedly covet the freedom Paxon now enjoys to kowtow to fat cats without having to explain it to the people who put him in Washington in the first place. "I feel more involved in politics today than when I was in Congress," Paxon bragged. "I don't need to attend to all the constituent service: the parades, the county dinners, the endless events." Oh, what a drag to have to leave the Beltway and actually shake hands and dine with regular constituents. Heaven forfend!

During the pseudo-populist Paxon years, the Republican Congress championed corporate welfare (such as the preservation of federal price-supports for tobacco farmers) and allowed unprecedented access to check-toting lobbyists. Government grew, spending grew and the gap between Republican rhetoric and reality grew. When the ride got rough, Paxon cut and ran to the welcoming embrace of wheel-er-dealer Democrats without shame or regrets. "I feel good. I'm not out of the loop," Paxon said of his new life.

Paxon's sellout underscores the sad failure of the GOP revolution to change the Beltway culture. It's still who you know, not what you believe, that matters most to Washington's creepiest creatures.

JWR contributor Michelle Malkin can be reached by clicking here.


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©1999, Creators Syndicate