Congressman DeLay Gives up Majority Leader’s Job
Indicted Congressman Tom DeLay (R-TX) surrendered his position as House Majority Leader over the week-end. Despite his earlier defiant attitude, his vow of “I shall return” ringing through the halls of the Capitol, he seemed to see that the jig was up. With lobbyist Jack Abramoff pleading guilty to several felonies and agreeing to sing for the Feds, the “Hammer,” as Mr. DeLay is known by those who love and hate him, effectively acknowledged that there is some fire with all this smoke.
Mr. DeLay embodied the Machiavellian dictum “it is better for a Prince to be feared than loved.” The Hammer twisted arms, funded or withheld funding of campaigns and in general made himself a power on the House floor and beyond relying on sticks more often than carrots. Regardless of what one thinks of Mr. DeLay, he was rare in GOP circles of late, a man who could accomplish what he wanted to accomplish. However, when the fear is gone, so is the support.
When Mr. DeLay stepped aside last autumn from the leadership, as the Republican Caucus rules required follwoing his indictment, he claimed that he was a victim of a liberal conspiracy. With Mr. Abramoff admitting to buckets of criminal activity, and with the ties between the two strong enough for a major suspension bridge, Mr. DeLay’s ability to terrorize his fellow GOP legislators evaporated. Now, the only leverage he has might be a threat to take others down with him.
Legally, Mr. DeLay is still an innocent man, and as odious as his political ideals and behavior are, he is entitled to no less than the presumption that he has committed no crime until a prosecutor proves otherwise. Politically, however, there is nothing he can do for anyone, and he has ensured that there is little personal affection for him on the Hill. Were he on fire, few in Congress would spit on him, according to one anonymous staffer.
The GOP now must choose a successor, and ideally wants to put this sad affair behind it. The successor will have to be purer than Caesar’s wife, and certainly cannot be tied to Mr. Abramoff. However, as the felon-lobbyist will testify against several GOP members of congress (and no Democrats took any money directly from him; they did accept money from Indian tribes that employed Mr. Abramoff -- not quite the same thing), this saga will run well into the summer, and if the party were smart, it would rig a few primaries against the tainted incumbents before the Democrats get a shot at winning the seats on a clean-sweep platform. The 2006 mid-term elections are 302 days away.
© Copyright 2006 by The Kensington Review, Jeff Myhre, PhD, Editor. No part of this publication may be reproduced without written consent.
Produced using Fedora Linux.