A Bad Year For Tom DeLay

In the space of the past year Tom DeLay has faced disgrace, indictment and resigned his seat. Now a Texas court has ruled that resignation or no, DeLay’s name must remain on the ballot.

Steve Benen says it for me:

It’s the best of all possible scenarios. I was pleased to see DeLay resign in April, but I was disappointed about one thing: I wanted to see him lose, not quit. Now, it may work out well after all.

I would go one step further. The major organizing principle of the upcoming election ought to be corruption. Yes the GOP can’t govern their way out of a paper bag, but that does not mean that they are incompetent in general. In fact the majority of them are very good at what they do. They suck at governing because for today’s GOP the question of crafting realistic policy ranks a distant third or fourth on the priority list. Let’s illustrate with the shining exemplar of Republican governance, Medicare part D.

Priority one: craft a bill to shore up the Senior demographic. You could argue that the bill was actually designed with seniors’ best interests in mind, if you wanted to lose a very short argument. Reference the infamous “donut hole,” which will cut off numerous seniors from needed medications in a weak game of accounting sleight-of-hand. Sure the donut hole and Part D chaos in general will hurt the GOP in ’06, but the bill delivered a potent issue in ’04 just like it was designed to do.

Priority two: back-scratching for Big Pharma. Why can’t the government negotiate lower prices for seniors? Affordable drugs sure would come in handy when the “donut hole” hits. Think real hard.

The Part D story just gets uglier the deeper you look into it. See, for example, this rundown from the known rabble-rousers at the New England (cough) Journal of Medicine. And this was a major, keynote piece of policy. By current standards Part D was relatively clean. Most sleaze happens at the margins, in pork allocations and minor bills that nobody pays attention to except for the lobbyists. Things that we mostly don’t notice, like “fixing” military procurements and passing on inside information and federal favors in exchange for assorted bakshish, are why Duke Cunningham and David Safavian have already gone to jail and why major aides and associates of Cunningham, Tom DeLay and Bob Ney have already plead guilty. Jerry Lewis (R – CA) hasn’t faced a major plead-out yet but at this point it seems only a matter of time.

For a while the indomitable House Majority Leader from Sugarland, Texas stood out as the national poster boy for GOP sleaze. But when his major aides and associates plead out DeLay, reading the writing on the wall, resigned his seat and denied the Democrats a potent living symbol. You can make only so much hay out of Duke Cunningham or Jerry Lewis and other folks who barely register with most Americans. Now DeLay has two choices, assuming that the inevitable 5th Circuit appeal fails: make a contest of it and give Democrats their symbol back, or admit that he’s running as a placeholder and hope that Nick Lampson gets hit by a meteor.

POSTSCRIPT: I should clarify a point about DeLay and the gradations of sleaze

GOP sleaze often serves venal, personal interests not unlike what drove William Jefferson (D – LA). More important but often less visible is the sleaze that specifically builds the party, consolidates power and denies influence to any other source of power, whether it is the Democrats or the media. The latter type of sleaze poses much more of a threat to the basic functions of democracy because unlike the former type of sleaze perverting democracy is more or less the point. And right in the center of that operation you find the money-influence nexus of Jack Abramoff, Grover Norquist and Tom DeLay. Modern Republicanism really is DeLayism as much as it resembles any principled worldview either liberal or conservative. If the Democrats plan to run against DeLayism then it seems fitting that they should run against DeLay.






17 replies
  1. 1
    Krista says:

    Ooo…first commenter on a new post. I feel all tingly.

    And I agree with you about Big Pharma, Tim. Yes, corporations have a right to make money, and they need money for R&D, but I don’t know how some of those execs can sleep at night, knowing that many of the people who need their product in order to save their fracking lives, can’t afford it because of the sky-high pricing.

  2. 2
    Nutcutter says:

    An absolutely accurate protrayal of what the inside of GOP governance looks like. Manipulative, driven by moneyed interests, and if the people get fucked over … well, who cares? As long as they can carve out their 50.5% mandate, they don’t give a shit.

    Besides, if Bill Clinton hadn’t been so focussed on getting blowjobs, maybe he’d have gotten us a better Part D, sooner. Once again, we are screwed by Clinton.

  3. 3
    metalgrid says:

    I can’t wait for DeLay to win the election. It’ll provide many moments of amusement.

  4. 4
    Tax Analyst says:

    Nice to see someone lay out the process in relation to the outcome in some detail. If you don’t then some woodchuck of the Right would have been right out there with some absurd “example” of equivalency that totally ignored proportionality. Aren’t we all a bit tired of “lying about blowjob” = “lying to take us to War”?

  5. 5

    This actually reminds me a lot of Torricelli in New Jersey.

    Although unlike Torricelli, DeLay’s corruption was well known prior to the primary. That’s why he had a primary challenger. It seems to me the Republicans had a chance then to replace Delay and choose to stand by their tainted man.

    Torricelli was implicated later in the campaign, and it was understandable that he would quit.

    That being said, I’d rather the Republicans be allowed to replace Delay on the ballot. I don’t want a Democrat to win simply by default, but because our ideas are better.

  6. 6
    Cyrus says:

    metalgrid Says:
    I can’t wait for DeLay to win the election. It’ll provide many moments of amusement.

    July 6th, 2006 at 2:04 pm

    Oh, I won’t be very surprised if he wins. (Disappointed, but not surprised.) What’s that factoid I saw recently, the current approval rating of Congress as a whole is at its lowest point in decades but the ratings of almost all individual Congressmen are high, or at least, net positive?

    If Delay does in fact run, he will probably win reelection because he’s in a solid Republican district and he has great name recognition and most of all because he’s done a good job of bringing home the pork. But the hope is, his existence and continued hold on a position of power will be a great campaign ad for all Democratic candidates elsewhere.

  7. 7
    Andrew says:

    That being said, I’d rather the Republicans be allowed to replace Delay on the ballot. I don’t want a Democrat to win simply by default, but because our ideas are better.

    “Better ideas” don’t win elections. Dirty politics do. At least half of the people in this country don’t believe in evolution, and you expect BETTER IDEAS to win elections?

    Now for a general rant, not particularly aimed at TOS:

    What’s a worse stain on your morality? Dirty politics or basically allowing the opposition to continue to run the government?

    Similarly, the Illinois Dems apparently had some qualms about redistricting. Boo-fucking-hoo for their morals. They could have added Democrats to Congress and gotten rid of Hastert too.

    No wonder fucking Democrats don’t fucking win elections.

  8. 8
    Tom in Texas says:

    DeLay stands a very real chance of losing precisely because of the redistricting he championed. He incorporated Clear Lake (the Houston suburb that houses NASA), Lampson’s home district of Beaumont, and Galveston into his district in 2002. Clear Lake is similar to Sugar Land in that it is suburbia and majority conservative, but Galveston is staunchly and traditionally Democratic. the island has a population of around 70,000, they are almost entirely lifelong residents of Galveston and they will vote en masse for Lampson. Beaumont is obviously Lampson territory. The irony that DeLay sowed the seeds of his destruction… mmm.

  9. 9
    Steve says:

    It was BS when the Dems got to replace Torricelli and it would be BS if DeLay managed to get off the ballot by means of these shenanigans. If this court hadn’t put a stop to the practice I imagine we’d start seeing it a lot more often.

  10. 10
    capelza says:

    I don’t know about Torricelli (NJ politics are another breed altogether anyway, for me), but DeLay hoisted himself and his party on this petard. He played a game and lost.

    I emotionally side with TOS, let’s not sink to their level. But we have pretty much been doing that and it hasn’t been too successful for us. I don’t want to say “nice guys finish last”, but at this point I’ll settle for “the lesser of two evils”(I’m not thrilled with the Democrats either)…really, the catty part of me wants DeLay to stay on the ballot. It’s his baby, he needs to own it, come what may.

    Of course, I’m originally from Missouri… we still get a real chuckle out of Mel Carnahan beating John Ashcroft. Yeah, yeah..break it down, abstract it, whatever…John Ashcroft was still beaten by a dead man.

  11. 11

    I emotionally side with TOS, let’s not sink to their level. But we have pretty much been doing that and it hasn’t been too successful for us. I don’t want to say “nice guys finish last”, but at this point I’ll settle for “the lesser of two evils”(I’m not thrilled with the Democrats either)…really, the catty part of me wants DeLay to stay on the ballot. It’s his baby, he needs to own it, come what may.

    Fair point.

    That’s where I do see this as somewhat different from Torricelli. Everybody knew about Delay when the primary was in place, and the Republicans backed him nearly unanimously.

    They’ve embraced corruption as a Republican value, and I think it’s reasonable to ask the voters if that is what they want.

  12. 12
    les says:

    DeLay (allegedly) no longer being a resident of his district, what’s the process if he does win? Appoint another sleazoid who doesn’t even have to run? Or more money on a special election?

  13. 13
    Steve says:

    Let’s keep in mind, Torricelli had an ethics problem and, I’m sure more importantly, he was down in the polls when he dropped out. It’s not like, you know, he got hit by a bus or something.

    In some ways the Torricelli case was even worse because he dropped out only a month before the election. But in the final analysis, I think DeLay was worse just because of how icky it is to fundraise, ostensibly for the election, just so you can use the money for your legal defense fund. Less of this from both parties, please.

  14. 14

    DeLay Must Stay

    Balloon Juice comments on a decision by a Texas court that resigned Republican Congressman Tom DeLay must stay on the ballot — and probably lose….

  15. 15
    Cyrus says:

    les Says:
    DeLay (allegedly) no longer being a resident of his district, what’s the process if he does win? Appoint another sleazoid who doesn’t even have to run? Or more money on a special election?

    IANAL, but as I understand it, legally speaking it doesn’t matter that he’s not a resident. If he runs and wins then the seat is his, I think. I have no idea about recall procedures or anything in Texas, but if they don’t exist, then the seat would be his for the term. If he wins but doesn’t want it, then yes, special election.

  16. 16
    texas dem says:

    “Better ideas” don’t win elections. Dirty politics do. At least half of the people in this country don’t believe in evolution, and you expect BETTER IDEAS to win elections?

    Thank you Andrew.

    Actually, better ideas and crafty politics win. Full-on dirty politics usually catch up to you in the end, I’d like to think. But the evolution point is very well made and well taken.

  17. 17

    […] How times have changed. Now with Abramoff cooperating with the feds and the Hammer facing the most humiliating sort of career denouement imaginable, the last standing leg of the stool is Grover Norquist. It seems somehow touching that Norquist, facing investigation and short on friends, thinks that he can stare down McCain on this issue. Sleaze has become an issue if not The Issue of ‘06 and if only for that reason alone Norquist seems doomed to lose. […]

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] How times have changed. Now with Abramoff cooperating with the feds and the Hammer facing the most humiliating sort of career denouement imaginable, the last standing leg of the stool is Grover Norquist. It seems somehow touching that Norquist, facing investigation and short on friends, thinks that he can stare down McCain on this issue. Sleaze has become an issue if not The Issue of ‘06 and if only for that reason alone Norquist seems doomed to lose. […]

  2. DeLay Must Stay

    Balloon Juice comments on a decision by a Texas court that resigned Republican Congressman Tom DeLay must stay on the ballot — and probably lose….

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