Monday, March 14, 2005

Delay-ing the inevitable...

Ok, so it turns out Tom Delay's heart condition was previously diagnosed and the guy's doing fine and etc. Glad to hear the Congressman is healthy and back at work. Now that the Washington Post wrote an editorial digging into him and the new House ethics rules, I think I can too...

For those of you that aren't familiar with Mr. Delay, I'll give you the short story. House Majority Leader Tom Delay has been a powerful member of the House since the Republican takeover in '94 when Delay became whip. Delay was well-known in that era for being a leading critic of President Clinton during the numerous bunk scandals dug up on him (and yes, that one that was technically not bunk, but no one gave a shit about). Delay is also well-known for being a capable floor leader, and for being a small step to the left of Benito Moussoulini.

Last year, the House ethics committee admonished Il duce three times for violating House ethics rules, but gave him no formal penalties. This year, three new allegations have come out including the two most recent allegation from this week that a "fact-finding" trip to South Korea was paid for by foreign interest groups in violation of House rules and that what amounted basically to a golfing trip to England was paid for by gambling interests who Delay helped by later killing a piece of regulatory legislation.

All of this is really icing on the cake to the way Republicans have rallied around their leader. With Delay facing a possible indictment from a Texas prosecutor for fundraising law violations in a separate incident, House Republicans changed the ethics rule requiring members to step down from leadership posts if they are indicted. This year, the Reps in the House unilaterally changed ethics investigation procedures to insulate their members from attack. From the WP editorial...

The new rules also pose substantive concerns, the most critical of which provides for the automatic dismissal of a complaint if it's not acted on within as little as 45 days and no longer than 90 days....It's a hands-off, no-paper-trail way for members to let ethics complaints simply disappear. Another rule, to let a single lawyer represent multiple parties in an investigation, is a road map to obstruction, letting those involved in an inquiry get their stories straight in advance.

Democrats are trying to use parliamentary tactics to block the changes while they try to attract a few Republicans to their side in a floor vote to overturn them. So far they have exactly one (today's props to cool Republicans goes to that very congressman--Rep. Christopher Shays from Connecticut).

Now, with all the bad news about how Democrats are getting steamrolled by the corrupt House leadership, I'll end with some optimism from another WP article:

DeLay garnered 55 percent of the vote in the November election against a relatively unknown Democrat, an unusually modest showing for a veteran House member who is one of the most powerful politicians in Washington.

Most ironically, this is due mostly to his own redistricting plan (see my post from a couple days ago):

"When you're drawing the lines, you have to set the example," DeLay explained..."If you're going to maximize the number of Republicans that are elected, everybody can't have an 80 percent district. If you're the guy that's sort of leading the effort, you can't tell your members, 'Well, I'm going to dilute yours, but I'm going to pack mine.'..."In doing all that, we tried to be as fair to everybody as possible," he added. "And I had to take my hit, too."

How noble of Tom. And very democratic. Well, no good deed goes unpunished... (from the The Christian Science Monitor:)

But when asked if House majority leader Tom DeLay (R) of Texas is on his list of vulnerable incumbents he wants to go after, the feisty [Democratic Congressional Campaign Committe Chair Rep. Rham] Emanuel reemerged: "If I told you, I would have to kill you!" he said, smiling broadly. "There are no districts that are absolutely off the table."

The nice thing about democracy is even when you lose, there's always another election right around the corner...

Incidentally, check out that CS Monitor piece above if you get a's a great profile of the DCCC chair--the "man who Democrats hope can take that Hill")


At March 15, 2005 11:58 AM, Blogger Gilbert Martinez said...

Question: What is the likelihood that the Dems will take the House in '06?


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