There are enough reasons to dislike Tom DeLay. Let's start with his grinding the House to impeach Clinton and move on to his many cronies that have used their expressed proximity to his high office in order to reap money and influence. Let's remind ourselves that this is a leader who is so married to pork that he had the temerity to declare the battle against government waste over and won. Let's also remember that his re-redistricting of the Texas Congressional delegation was not the finest moment in Republican politics. And his demagoguery of Terri Schiavo's suffering was as ugly as the other side's glee.
Still, Tom DeLay would not be as much a target for Democratic retribution if he wasn't so damn successful. Yesterday, the Democrats got their payback. And it was a big mistake. I have read as much as I could find about the indictment that Ronnie Earle let loose today and I have to say that even though DeLay is rightly considered innocent until, well, you know, this doesn't seem to me to be anything more than a way to get DeLay out of power.
On the face of it, the case looks like money laundering. Corporate money (which is not allowed to go to Texas State candidates) was given to Delay's PAC, and then sent to the RNC. The RNC took money from a separate account and sent it back to the state. However, this isn't illegal in Texas, where the loophole was kept in for just this purpose. We can go into the campaign finance reform farce at a later date.
So Earle can't indict on money laundering so he pulls out the cheapest trick: conspiracy, which is basically easy to bring and hard to prove, unless you're a ham sandwich. But whatever, the Democrats are rejoicing because the GOP has already replaced DeLay with Roy Blunt (MO) and not David Dreier, the Congressmen whom partisans like Duncan Black and Kos love to point out is gay. The GOP missed a chance of stuffing the multi-culti into the democrats face by elevating Dreier, but they lost their nerve and caved to the rabid religious right.
DeLay crashed Brit Hume's party last night and took up the last half hour knocking softballs out of the park. Hume was obviously both amused and delighted at DeLay's quiet rap on the studio door asking to be let in. And Hume obliged, because, well, who wouldn't? And as Hume makes no bones about where his sympathies lay, it was a no brainer. And it was a shrewd though ultimately empty move on DeLay's part. Hume's show is the only reason to watch FOX after 6 p.m. and he allowed the Congressman to vent and tell his side of the story. One would imagine that had Ronnie Earle asked, Hume would have had him on, too.
So DeLay skulked around the FOX DC bureau all night it seems, showing up later on Hannity & Colmes to go over yet again what a piece of Texas sludge Earle is. I think he also appeared with Greta later on to enlist in the search for Natalie Holloway.
Previously, Nancy Pelosi took the bit from her mouth and expressed shock, shock I say, as to the demonstrable level of GOP corruption. Because, you know, Democrats are pure of heart and chaste of soul. But that only came about from being in the wilderness for so long. And meanwhile the Republicans are doing the quarantine cha-cha away from DeLay even as they pinch in to get him that long-overdue gold watch.
If DeLay is guilty, then he deserves jail. But, and it pains me to say this, I don't think that the DA can prove a thing. But that is not the point. The damage, as they say, is already done. DeLay is another Trent Lott, now. He will likely keep his office, but he will never be Leader again. And that's what the Democrats wanted.
I say that this is a mistake because when DeLay in acquitted, as he probably will be, the Democrats will have done nothing than increase the alienation that the party engenders in many parts of the country. If they think that suddenly Texas is coming back to the Donkey, they are mistaken. And Texas is the only state where this story will play. So the Democratic party continues to pay to its "base" as if it is going anywhere. And this vaunted base just moves the party further and further into the leftist wonderland and leaves true liberal and moderate Democrats feeling ignored and confused.
So Democrats of a certain stripe will rejoice for a while, and those who would rather prosecute based on ideology than fact will twirl in their collective oblivion and, come 2006, wonder why the rest of the nation is still so damn stupid. The Democrats would be smart to take their argument of rampant cronyism and incompetence in the GOP to the people rather than to a grand jury. This looks like harassment because the Dems haven't exactly look competent themselves. And they still haven't realized that when politicians accuse other politicians of corruption, most voters see nothing more than a bunch of kettles and pots.
The reason DeLay should not be Leader is not that he is corrupt or successful or nasty. It's because he has failed to make good on the promise the GOP made when they finally took the House back in 1994. What happened to shrinking government, making it more efficient and accountable? What happened to individual and state's rights? Part of what I called at the time The Contract On America was to rid Congress of the old boys way and clean out the halls of power. Well, not much cleaning has been done and even now, with a Republican Senate, the GOP has proven in practice that their words didn't mean a thing.
However, the Democrats are hardly in a place to now be the party of reform, since they have spent so much time being the party of No. We'll see, of course, but the Dems aren't going to get anywhere with the current leadership. Remember that the only two Democrats to win the presidency in the last forty years were centrists from way outside the Beltway.
I would bet that somewhere last night, Bill Clinton, the most successful Democratic politician of this era, watched all the news shows and clinked glasses with whomever he was with. He may even have allowed himself a congratulatory cigar. And as he raised his martini to his lips, he said, almost to himself, "Heh, Tom. Payback's a bitch."