I'm not going to claim it was a smart idea for Ronnie Earle to give a speech at a fundraiser for a brand-new Democratic PAC. I mean, it's a little hard for me to see why there's anything scandalous in an officeholder talking to a group of supporters, especially when the officeholder is not the one doing the fundraising. And yes, Earle had some uncomplimentary things to say about DeLay, but then, that feeling is certainly mutual and DeLay isn't shy about expressing it. It's doing this at a fundraiser that's bothersome. Stick to civic groups and reporters until these cases are resolved, Ronnie.
As for his motives in investigating Tom DeLay and his cronies, I've always thought that it would be extremely stupid of Earle to take anything less than rock solid evidence to trial, because he's ultimately going to be judged by how those trials turn out. If he loses, his entire career will mean nothing - he'll always be the guy who tried and failed to take down DeLay, and he'll always be a partisan hack and a loser because of it. If you're going to roll the dice on that, wouldn't you want to have the odds in your favor?
But let's say for a minute that he is blinded by partisan zeal, as DeLay and his supporters would have you believe, and this is all a vindictive witch hunt with no real evidence to support it. Let's not forget, he's planning to retire soon, and I'm pretty sure one or more of his executive assistant DAs will want his job when he does. Are they all equally blinded as well, to the point where they can't see their own ambition and the effect such a fiasco would have on it? Don't you think one of them might have seen the writing on the wall and resigned loudly, so as to maintain political viability for later? You'd have to believe in the irrationality of an awful lot of people to think otherwise.
All that said, I do agree it's not wise politics for Earle to have done this. He can't afford to let the editorial page tut-tutters make their inevitable case for moral equivalence between himself and DeLay, because once that happens, once this becomes a political squabble instead of a "cops and robbers" story, he's sunk. I hope they're clearheaded enough to draw a distinction, but I'm not confident of it. It sucks to be Caesar's wife, but that's the way it is.
Meanwhile, DeLay got a bit of a boost from the recent poll which says that not too many people are paying attention to his ethical issues.
Fewer than one in 10 Americans are closely following the debate over DeLay's overseas travel, fund raising and connections to lobbyists, according to a poll by the Pew Center for People and the Press.
The poll of 1,502 people was conducted Wednesday through Sunday, during which conservative leaders put on a highly publicized tribute dinner for DeLay.
Half the poll's respondents said they didn't know whether DeLay is guilty of violating the ethical standards of the House. Of those following the story at least fairly closely, 61 percent said they think DeLay is guilty of ethics violations, compared to 24 percent who think he is not.
The ethics cloud over House Majority Leader Tom DeLay is attracting public notice. By 52%-12%, Americans say Congress should investigate the Texan's travel and relationships with lobbyists. Though just over half of Americans don't know who Mr. DeLay is or have a neutral opinion, the rest view him negatively by a two-to-one margin.
Finally, for your consideration, Larry Sabato's early view of 2006 (via Political Wire), and a (belated) link to proposed new standards for ethics which I hope will get plenty of notice.Posted by Charles Kuffner on May 19, 2005 to Scandalized! | TrackBack
Are they all equally blinded as well, to the point where they can't see their own ambition and the effect such a fiasco would have on it? Don't you think one of them might have seen the writing on the wall and resigned loudly, so as to maintain political viability for later?
You're not serious? Look, I don't buy into the "blind partisan zeal" argument 100%, but why shouldn't we expect that voters in that jurisdiction might well support the partisan pursuit of a hard-right leader? And that it might not be good politics at all to resign from such a pursuit? Not saying that's what's happening, but if we're going to play hypotheticals, let's flip it around that way and think about it. I mean, look at it this way -- Mike Fjetland and Bev Carter aren't exactly the most popular people in Ft Bend for their conscientious *ahem* dissenting *ahem* views on Tom DeLay! Likewise, the anti-DeLay true believers may not receive a dissenting voice among their ranks all that well.
You'll note also that approval of Congress is abysmal as well. People may not know Tom DeLay, but they know his work, and they don't like it very much.
That's an overly broad generalization. When is Congressional approval EVER anything but abysmal? I don't think you're looking at a dependent variable that can be explained all that well by the independent variable (Tom DeLay) that you've chosen, and I'd suggest it's much more complicated than a bivariate case anyway!Posted by: kevin whited on May 19, 2005 4:26 PM
Yes, I'm serious. These are very high stakes. If these charges get thrown out, or if a jury acquits in 15 minutes, it's a huge victory for DeLay and the Republicans and a huge black eye for Earle's office, which the GOP will make into a black eye for all Democrats. Dissenters may not always be popular, but being proven right is a powerful thing.
And besides, there's less dramatic ways to do this if one isn't made of such stern stuff. A simple leak to a Statesman reporter would suffice. I wouldn't draw broad conclusions from the lack of all this, but I think it's very reasonable to believe that these cases have merit and a decent chance of getting convictions.Posted by: Charles Kuffner on May 19, 2005 5:29 PM
Forgot to mention - Congress' approval numbers are low by their own standards. Look at the WSJ/NBC poll:
When Americans are asked which party they want to control Congress after the 2006 elections, Democrats hold a 47%-40% edge -- the party's best showing since the Journal/NBC survey began asking that question in 1994.
Just 33% approve of lawmakers' performance while 51% disapprove, nearly matching the 32%-56% rating Congress received six months before the "Republican revolution" of 1994. While assessments by Democrats and independents slipped slightly since April, approval of Congress by Republicans dropped by 11 percentage points to 45%.
First, I have to agree with Kevin - the folks whowant DeLay indicted may be inclined to reward loyalists and tolerate a bit of over-reach.
Secondly, on "his entire career will mean nothing - he'll always be the guy who tried and failed to take down DeLay..
Uh Huh. Right now, he is the guy who tried and failed to take down Sen. Kay Hutchinson, but he is still around.
And on that, here is a Dallas Morning News excerpt:
"the impression of partisan unfairness has certainly been reinforced by the leaks and public comment about Hutchison's case from the District Attorney's office throughout the summer. That the Grand Jury investigation has been conducted with so much fanfare - such as the tip-offs to the new media when key records were seized from the former treasurer's office - has added a darker tone to the cloudy proceedings."Posted by: Tom Maguire on May 19, 2005 9:34 PM
This worries me. DeLay is depending on the people's ignorance so that he can slander Earle as merely a partisan attack dog. Earle, who is (as if that's news) a Democrat, ought to be avoiding anything that makes him look partisan. Not a good call speaking at a fundraiser until Big Fish gets fried.Posted by: Jim D on May 20, 2005 8:11 AM
Ronnie Earle has a terrible track record of trying to intimidate those who don't agree with him politically. Interestingly, he's the first one to run and hide if you call his office and challenge his integrity. He has all the courage, apparently, of Alec Baldwin in a faceoff against Sean Hannity. In fact, I'll go further: Earle has all the courage of the French during WWII.Posted by: Rob Adcox on April 4, 2006 6:36 PM