Thursday, September 29, 2005

The Hammer Gets Nailed

Tom DeLay's indictment, and the response it has evoked, has unfolded in a manner that is entirely predictable. Republicans have reviled the prosecutor as a Democrat partisan with an obsession of bringing the House Majority Leader down. Democrats have spun the indictment as the work of a thoughtful and meticulous prosecutor who has complied unassailable evidence of DeLay's guilt. Both may be true.

I haven't been a fan of DeLay's tenure as Majority Leader; some of aspects of his personality that made him a very effective Majority Whip have rendered him unpalatable for the higher profile of Leader. To be sure, he is no more offensive than Senator Schumer of New York, that is an unreachable standard, but considering the way in which the Republicans spoke about governing in 1994, and what has happened since then, most of the G.O.P. management of the legislative branch has been disappointing. His recent comments on pork and governmental spending, noted in a previous post, are particularly appalling.

DeLay's behavior, and his reaction to criticism of it, is reminiscent of Dan Rostenkowski's arrogance: l'etat cest moi. (For future reference, allow me to point out that Rostenkowski, who pled guilty to mail fraud, was pardoned by President Clinton in 2000.) Controversy has swirled about DeLay for years and much of it he has brought upon himself though his words and deeds. The "liberal media" argument doesn't hold water here. He has stepped down as Majority Leader, as he should have; let the judicial system do its job.

Deb Saunders, an acute observer of the political scene and a conservative who writes for, are you sitting down?, the San Francisco Pravda, oops, Chronicle, has an essay today on the real troubles with DeLay of which his latest legal entanglements are just icing on the cake.

A political party is in big trouble when a criminal indictment may be the best thing that could happen to it. Yet it may well be that the indictment by a Texas grand jury of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay finally prods GOP biggies to stumble before a mirror and take a long look at what they have become. Only a mother could love the bleary, bloated faces staring back.

DeLay most certainly is guilty of losing touch with the American public. You could see it in his recent statement that the GOP-controlled Congress had cut all the fat in federal spending. Even before Katrina, domestic spending -- not including homeland security and defense -- rose $303 billion since 2001, according to the American Conservative Union. Yet DeLay, who says he wants less government, declared "victory" on overspending.

Defiant in his own defense, DeLay faulted "the politics of personal destruction" Wednesday. No, like the GOP giant Newt Gingrich before him, DeLay should recognize the politics of self-destruction. It's an old story. A scrappy young man goes to Washington to change the political culture, only to become the very things he once resented -- a defender of bloated government and a party hack who put power before principle. But he doesn't change the system, it changes him.


Blogger Jason said...

Also, what's predictable about the left's response to the indictment is that they are treating it as if it were an iron-clad conviction.

11:27 AM  

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