Monday, March 28, 2005

Drum beat got VERY LOUD: Wall Street Journal weighs in

Everyone has sent this to me today... so I thought I'd share it. I have excerpted a lot of it, instead of putting it all out there. (Don't want to run afoul of copyright laws. :-| ) The WSJ doesn't provide free access.
Smells Like Beltway
March 28, 2005; Page A16

By now you have surely read about House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's ethics troubles. Probably, too, you aren't entirely clear as to what those troubles are -- something to do with questionable junkets, Indian casino money, funny business on the House Ethics Committee, stuff down in Texas. In Beltway-speak, what this means is that Mr. DeLay has an "odor": nothing too incriminating, nothing actually criminal, just an unsavory whiff that could have GOP loyalists reaching for the political Glade if it gets any worse.

The Beltway wisdom is right. Mr. DeLay does have odor issues. Increasingly, he smells just like the Beltway itself.

Here is the abbreviated rap sheet against Mr. DeLay. First, we have the imbroglio with the House Ethics Committee, which last year rebuked him on three occasions. Among his sins: He offered to endorse outgoing Representative Nick Smith's son in a GOP primary if Mr. Smith would vote "yes" on the Medicare prescription-drug bill. (Mr. Smith declined the offer; his son lost the primary.) Mr. DeLay has since changed Committee rules so that it can no longer launch investigations on a party-line basis, and by packing the Committee with loyalists.

Next, there is the Texas business. Ronnie Earle, the district attorney for Travis County (which contains Austin), last year indicted three DeLay associates involved in his Texans for a Republican Majority political action committee for money laundering and illegal campaign contributions. Mr. Earle also will not rule out a possible indictment of Mr. DeLay himself.

Mr. Earle, a partisan Democrat, has a record of making suspect accusations: In 1993, he indicted newly elected Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison on evidence so weak the case was never brought to trial. The indictments of Mr. DeLay's associates came just six weeks before November's elections; Mr. Earle's primary aim, it seemed, was to derail Mr. DeLay's ultimately successful efforts to achieve the first Republican majority in the Texas delegation to the U.S. House since Reconstruction. Still, the "odor" stuck; last year Mr. DeLay had to fend off a stiff challenge from a complete unknown to keep what otherwise would have been his safe seat.

Finally, there are the junkets, three in particular. In December 1997, Mr. DeLay visited the Northern Marianas Islands in the company of lobbyist pal Jack Abramoff, now under investigation by the Senate Finance Committee, who just happened to be representing the garment industry there. Mr. DeLay later led a legislative effort to extend the Islands' exemption from U.S. immigration and labor laws.


In August 2001, Mr. DeLay and several House colleagues (including four Democrats) visited South Korea on a trip sponsored by the Korea-United States Exchange Council, which has close ties to former DeLay staff chief Ed Buckham and was registered as foreign agent just days before the trip. House rules forbid members from traveling at their expense, but it is unclear whether Mr. DeLay or his colleagues were aware of the Korean Exchange Council's status at the time of their departure.

Taken separately, and on present evidence, none of the latest charges directly touch Mr. DeLay; at worst, they paint a picture of a man who makes enemies by playing political hardball and loses admirers by resorting to politics-as-usual.

The problem, rather, is that Mr. DeLay, who rode to power in 1994 on a wave of revulsion at the everyday ways of big government, has become the living exemplar of some of its worst habits. Mr. DeLay's ties to Mr. Abramoff might be innocent, in a strictly legal sense, but it strains credulity to believe that Mr. DeLay found nothing strange with being included in Mr. Abramoff's lavish junkets.


Whether Mr. DeLay violated the small print of House Ethics or campaign-finance rules is thus largely beside the point. His real fault lies in betraying the broader set of principles that brought him into office, and which, if he continues as before, sooner or later will sweep him out.


  • Other sources cite Mr. Earle as nominally a Democrat, one who has prosecuted as many Democrats as Republicans. You might have mentioned that.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:20 PM  

  • I live in Tom Delay's district and supported Mr. Morrison in the November 2004 election. Hopefully, Mr. Morrison will run again in 2006. I wouldn't doubt he'll have a better showing this time around.

    By Blogger Clarissa L., at 4:51 PM  

  • So, why aren't the Armand Hammer's of the world coughing up moeny to find another Kenneth Starr to prosecute Mr. DeLay? After all, if we can lavish millions of dollars on an investigation of a semen stain and a questionable loan, don't we have a few million left for this? I suppose not, we must have spent all the discretionary money on Titan Corporation, Halliburton, and the rest of George's cronies.

    By Blogger gardoglee, at 5:33 PM  

  • As I recall, as a resident of Travis County for the last 15 years, the prosecution of Kay Bailey Hutchison was terminated mainly because the judge did not let in some of the key evidence against her. Incidentally, the charge was for using her Texas Treasury employees to help with her senatorial campaign on state job time. Also, I wouldn't call one failed prosecution of an official in 25 years as DA a "record" of suspect indictments. The author's characterization of R. Earle as a "partisan Democrat" is redundant; one would have to favor the Democratic party in order to be a loyal Democrat. If the WSJ author is trying to suggest that R. Earle is more partisan than most Democrats here, I seriously doubt that charge can be substantiated with any evidence. Earle was re-elected this last time with 80% of the vote. You cannot get that high a fraction of the votes here, without getting a majority of the Republican votes as well as the Democratic votes. He gets such a high vote tally because he does a good job, and is a straight shooter when it comes to law breakers.

    By Anonymous David Herrin, Ph.D., at 5:47 PM  

  • Mr. Delay's ethics problems really show very little difference from the tactics which the Bush administration has used since its beginning: distort the truth, distort the effects of its proposed legislative agenda, impugn the character and reputation of individuals who speak out against the administration's questionable, illegal, unethical, untruthful, and immoral actions. Mr. Delay's latest shameful maneuvering and meddling in the Terri Schiavo case merely attempted to rally the radical right base of his party. This was plainly a red herring used to take the focus off his political problems. No less shameful was President Bush's complicity in urging Congress to pass unprecedented legislation pushing the whole matter toward federal courts, in the hope that judicial decisions at the state level would be overtuned. His rush back to the White House to sign the law in his pajamas was pitiful and pitiless. I am reminded of one of Newton's laws of physics: "For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction." Perhaps not quite applicable to politics, but there is an element of poetic justice in Newton's priciple. The whole cabal backfired. The majority of the American people looked with disfavor on all this politically inspired nonsense. It is time we rid the government of those, Republican or Democrat, who think only of personal gain and partisan advantage for either themselves or their cronies--not for the greater good of the American people.
    Thomas E. Davis, M.A. in French; English,with a concentration in linguistics,
    Casper, Wyoming

    By Anonymous Thomas E. Davis, at 6:38 PM  

  • Queen's single, "Hammer to Fall" is precient.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:35 PM  

  • Not only is it time to get rid of the crooked "law-makers" in DC, it's time to demand true campaign finance reform and remove their ability to get any corporate, business or special interest group money. Show not favoritism - stop the crooked big biz Enron-esque activities of OUR Congress now! Let's have a gov that is truely of, for and by the people.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:38 PM  

  • Let's put some people in government offices who have had to actually live in the "real world" of working hard and just getting by, cutting back when demanded and going without when mandatory. Also, no political contributions from any big corporations! Keeps a person honest and no pay backs for favors!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:27 AM  

  • Typical as I say not as do. Mr. Delay's interference with the Terry Schiavo case was classic. He did not do everything possible for his own father and stopped treatment. It is said that that was a different circumstance but Ms. Schiavo was at one time on a ventilator and was able to be weaned off the vent. Given time Delay's father would have been weaned off the ventilator. I know this because of my years as an ICU nurse. This does not mean that Mr. Delay did the wrong thing. Quite the contrary he did the humane thing just as Mr. Schiavo should have done in the begining of Terry's severe anoxic brain injury. This, however would have been tough to do due to her age and the remote possiblity of some recovery. Politics rule the day again!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:33 PM  

  • Here's hoping the constituents of
    US 22nd Dist do Congress, Texas,
    and themselves a favor by sending
    DeLay back among those pesky rats, fire-ants and cockroaches he was purging before he took office.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:23 PM  

  • Hypocrisy is the highest of political virtues. Machiavelli

    By Anonymous Ternot MacRenato, at 10:44 AM  

  • DeLay is a fucking idiot, and anyone who supports his lame ass is probably avaricious, unethical, and brain-damaged, and needs a life-support system as well.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:53 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home