|Tom DeLay- Corporate Whore|
A Republican Tom DeLay Problem
Published: December 10, 2005
It may be dawning on House Republicans that Representative Tom DeLay's time as their majority leader is truly over, despite the bold Texan's resolve to regain his grip on Congress. Whatever the outcome of his trial on felony charges of laundering political money, Mr. DeLay's root problem has been laid bare. It is outsized hubris, which is ever clearer to the public and ever more a G.O.P. millstone.
The question for the Republicans - many of them entangled in Mr. DeLay's bountiful network of fund-raising riches - is how fast they can learn from all this. When, if ever, will they enact believable reforms of Congress's big-money wallow?
Mr. DeLay's downfall came by his own hand, with a successful scheme to bankroll Texas election victories so a Statehouse majority would gerrymander five more G.O.P. seats for him in Congress. The partisan map was faulted as illegal by civil rights staff members at the Justice Department, but they were overruled by Republican appointees. This is political hubris on a national scale, directed at the heart of democracy.
Mr. DeLay's brazenness was clear long before his Texas indictment, as he ignored the normal post-census redistricting schedule and bulldozed the gerrymandering through the Statehouse. His money-raising machine, dubbed DeLay Inc. by his court of donors and lobbyists in Washington, funneled funds through Austin in ways that Mr. DeLay insists will eventually be judged legal. Regardless of what happens in court, the operation was a political scandal.
Mr. DeLay punctuated one day in court this week with another signature fund-raiser, packed with favor-seeking donors, and a guest appearance by Vice President Dick Cheney. Any sense of scandal seemed checked at the door. But the House speaker, Dennis Hastert, propped up in power by the DeLay machine, cannot afford to ignore reality with such impunity. He has every reason, including self-survival, to embrace long-resisted ethics reforms. Meanwhile, Republicans had better begin searching for fresh faces outside the encrusted inner circle of power before their majority fades in tandem with Mr. DeLay.
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