March 30, 2005
Ads target DeLay

By now you've probably heard of the anti-DeLay ads that are being run here in Houston (the Chron has a video link) and in various other Congressional districts - see here for more on that. Couple things to mention here, staring with a bit from the NYT story:

Officials in Mr. DeLay's office were quick to depict the commercials as partisan attacks, noting that the Campaign for America's Future has in the past received money from George Soros, the philanthropist and financier who gave millions of dollars to support Democrats in last November's elections. Records show Mr. Soros gave $300,000 to a committee run by the organization last year.

"This is one more front group for Nancy Pelosi and Democratic heavy hitters like George Soros," said Dan Allen, a spokesman for Mr. DeLay. "They are attacking the House Republicans in an attempt to bring the House down."

Actually, they're attacking one specific House Republican, though I'd certainly say it's fair to question why all these other supposedly honorable Republicans are sticking up for their Ethics Violater In Chief. As to the laughable spectacle of Tom Freaking DeLay complaining about partisan attacks, I think this response is about right:

"You can't complain of partisanship when you are one of Congress's leading partisans," said John Jonas, a Democratic lobbyist. "This is somebody who has contributed to the sharp and bitter partisan environment in Washington. There's not much credibility in his claim."

Indeed. Hard to imagine anyone buying this outburst of crocodile tears. DeLay is nobody's idea of warm and fuzzy, and doesn't have any room to whine here. He can talk about Democratic attacks on him all he wants, but I guarantee that the country's editorial writers will continue to bring up those troublesome unanimously-decided ethics rebukes and the purge that followed them.

As for the political wisdom of all this, Brad Plumer and Ezra Klein think the focus is too much on DeLay and not nearly enough on DeLayism. I think their fears can be summarized by the closing of this Howard Fineman article:

Inside the GOP leadership on the Hill, DeLay is not beloved. He is admired for his fundraising skill and political daring, but at least some of the top figures are wary of him. Speaker Denny Hastert, once thought of as a creation and tool of the DeLay, has risen in esteem – and real and perceived independence. Majority Whip Roy Blunt, widely respected and much liked at the White House, is waiting in the wings should the need arise to move up in the ranks.

Relations between the president and DeLay have never been particularly warm – Texas isn’t quite big enough for the both of them. Bush and Karl Rove have been careful to cultivate him over the years, of course, and they have made common cause since Bush first started running for governor in 1993. Bush likes to delegate the tough stuff – to people like DeLay and Rove – but they are still hired help.

And you can always fire the help.

Any scenario that includes DeLay's ouster is by definition good, but if that's all that happens - if Roy Blunt gets promoted, the national GOP gains absolution for finally "cleaning itself up", and life goes on as before except there's no longer a clearly visible symbol of the arrogance, corruption, and abuse of power that is the national Republican Party, then at the very least, it's about as small a good as it could be. Clearly, we need more than that.

Reading JesseLee's post, I think the DCCC gets it. I don't think there's any way in which DeLay leaves voluntarily, as Newt Gingrich did in 1998. To me, the ideal situation is for DeLay to dig in and remain defiant - and thus in the news - all the way up to the 2006 elections. As with Newt, I don't think it's the Republicans who will benefit from his higher profile. Let him get his friends to publicly stand by him. That's what we want, right? And it keeps the story in the news and allows us to keep bringing up all the reasons why it's in the news. All that without even mentioning that there ought to be a continuing stream of news coming out of Texas, all with ties back to DeLay. I say bring it on, fellas.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on March 30, 2005 to Scandalized! | TrackBack