The sharp knives are drawn, and the weakened King has his days numbered:
Former U.S. Rep. Steve Stockman, who served a single term in Congress after being elected in the Republican sweep of 1994, now wants a shot at Republican Rep. Tom DeLay.
But this time, Stockman hopes to get on the November ballot as an independent candidate against DeLay, of Sugar Land, in the 22nd Congressional District.
Besides DeLay, Stockman could take on the man who ended his brief previous congressional career, former U.S. Rep. Nick Lampson, the sole Democratic candidate in the race.
Stockman and Lampson are among eight candidates trying to unseat DeLay.
Add to this that even the National Review has decided that maybe, just maybe, DeLay should not return as majority leader:
Since 1994 Tom DeLay has led the Republican House majority ably and loyally. Now he needs to perform yet another act of service by not seeking to return as majority leader.***
Republicans underestimate the potential impact of the Abramoff scandal at their peril. One top Republican strategist told us, “There are two types of House Republicans: Those who are in trouble, and those who don’t know it yet.” Republicans have to do more, rather than less, to control the damage.
DeLay can do his part by forswearing any ambition to return to the leadership until this matter is resolved. It may be necessary for the House Republican Conference to discipline other of its members — we have Rep. Bob Ney (R., Ohio) in particular in mind — as evidence of their involvement with Abramoff dictates. (Of course, it is also possible that Justice-department prosecutors have overreached, and will have a problem establishing that typical Washington influence peddling crossed the line into criminality.) Finally, Republicans should embrace a tough reform package that tightens up on lobbying disclosure and cracks down on the earmarked spending that is bait for corrupting lobbyists. A majority that deserves to stay a majority must demonstrate that it is capable of policing itself.
We hope Delay clears his name, and it is notable that he wasn’t explicitly referred to in the plea agreement. The winds frequently shift in Washington and it might be that a year or two from now — leadership elections are held every two years — a clearly innocent DeLay will be poised for a comeback. It will certainly help earn the goodwill of his colleagues if he realizes the wisdom of remaining, for now, a backbencher.
Granted, the National Review piece reads like a Rush Limbaugh Oxycontin-fueled wet dream, because the idea that DeLay is just innocently caught up in this Abramoff mess and will one day be poised for a comeback is pretty damned absurd, but if even they are telling the King to step aside, that should tell you something. It tells me that right now, the king that DeLay is emulating is less Alexander the Great, King of Macedonia, and more Elvis, the Memphis King- alone, bloated, choking on his own excesses, and dying, if you will, on the throne.