Sunday, January 08, 2006

The beating of Tom-Tom

Saturday’s not-so-surprising announcement by Republican Congressman Tom DeLay that he would abandon all hope of regaining his position as House Majority Leader is just part of the continuing self-destruction of one of this country’s political leaders. His reign of legislative terror is essentially over as the man called “The Hammer” who loved posing on the Capitol steps cracking a bullwhip.
The announcement did not mean he was quitting the House – far from it. He is running for re-election, but with four Republican challengers in the March primary and a major Democratic challenger, former Congressman Nick Lampson who got gerrymandered by DeLay and his cronies out of office two years ago.
This is the case of a big oak tree being whittled down a branch at a time and now the lumberjacks are going for the base to knock it down all together. And DeLay, through his arrogance and action, have brought the saws upon himself. He was once the GOP’s bastion of moral conservatism, but like all things, and people, who put themselves on pedestals, they become targets to be knocked down.
And no one was holier than thou than Tom DeLay.
I’ve heard far too many talk show hosts, politicians and read too many columnists who think the DeLay brouhaha, and the guilty pleas and revelations from lobbyist Jack Arbamoff, are a tempest in a tea pot. Oh how wrong they are!
If I were a Democratic strategist, I would construct a simply 30-second commercial to be run in every market where a Congressional seat or U.S. Senate seat, held by a Republican, is being contested. I would put Abramoff’s mug on screen and then the Republican in question on the other side and just start listing contributions made from one to the other.
“What did he buy and when did he buy it?” I would ask. I’d smack the incumbent with the flypaper that is Abramoff and make them disprove a negative – the hardest thing to do in politics. In Louisiana, former Gov. Edwin Edwards (himself serving time for accepting bribes), “The only rule in politics is not to get caught with a dead woman or a live boy in bed with you.” Add Mr. Abramoff to that list.
I usually dismiss what conservative commentators have to say because of their self-serving interests, But, Here are the words of a conservative I respect, Rod Dreher of the Dallas Morning News, off that newspaper’s editorial board blog last week:
“Some of my colleagues over at National Review’s blog think the Abramoff scandal is a big snooze. Not me. I think Abramoff is a very big deal, and I believe Republicans, and conservatives, dismiss or downplay it at our peril. What this guy did was disgusting, as I’m sure we all can agree. But it’s important morally and politically because Republicans came to power in 1994 largely because the public was sick and tired of the way the Democrats used their institutional power for corrupt ends. Andy Ferguson identified the importance in this Weekly Standard article, especially in this passage:

The Republican takeover--which is to say, political success--dealt the mortal blow [to reformist, idealistic conservatism]. Conservative institutions, conceived for combat, have in power become self-perpetuating, churning their direct-mail lists in pursuit of cash from the orthodontist in Wichita and the Little Old Lady in Dubuque, so the activists can continue to fund the all-important work of . . . churning their direct-mail lists. The current story of Jack Abramoff’s lucrative self-dealing, involving as it does such movement stalwarts as Ralph Reed and Grover Norquist, may seem lunatic in its excesses, but the excesses aren't the point. The point is the ease with which the stalwarts commandeered the greasy machinery of Washington power. Conservative activists came to Washington to do good and stayed to do well. The grease rubbed off, too.

Translation: the people we conservatives advocated for and voted for got to Washington and in many cases became just as corrupt as the bums they replaced - though the scale of Abramoff’s operation suggests that the Republicans were even worse. Somewhere along the way, Republicans got more interested in maintaining power than in standing for anything - I vote for the moment that Tom DeLay conceived the K Street Project, which in its wretched amoralistic excess recalls the phrase attributed to the Medici pope of the Renaissance Leo X: “God gave us the papacy; let us enjoy it,” (and we know how well things would soon turn out for the Church because of that attitude).
If I were a Democrat, I would flood Red State media markets this fall with the following quotation - yes, I quoted it yesterday, but I just can't get enough of it -- from a memo by Abramoff partner and former DeLay aide Michael Scanlon, explaining how he and his fellow wiseguys made useful idiots of Christian conservatives to serve their clients' interests: "Simply put, we want to bring out the wackos to vote against something and make sure the rest of the public lets the whole thing slip past them. The wackos get their information form [sic] the Christian right, Christian radio, mail, the internet, and telephone trees."
If conservatives cannot work up some authentic moral outrage over what this sorry lot we've helped get elected has done with the public trust and our own trust, then we deserve to lose this fall. Might as well lose public office, as we will have already lost our souls.”

Couldn’t have said it better myself.
DeLay is no shoo-in to win re-election in his Sugar Land district outside of Houston. But his career is essentially over and it’s HIS fault. He asked the lumberjacks to chop him down … like termintes.

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