What to say about Tom DeLay? His zeal, arrogance, determination, and power reached incredible heights in his time. It seemed he would do anything to further the creation of a Republican majority in Congress. His success lives on, though he will not be a part of it any longer. It is tempting to bask in the DeLay-free political future, but now is not the time to relax.
DeLay’s exit, in a strange way, could help Republicans. Democrats have focussed on DeLay’s crimes, because he was the House Majority leader, and because they were so numerous, but now we risk having wasted all of that effort because he will not be there to vote against. This would be a shame, because DeLay, though he is not running, remains emblematic of the current GOP approach to campaigning and governance. We must remind the voters that this is so.
John Nichols at The Nation concludes that, strategy be damned, it’s just good to know that DeLay is not going to have any power any more:
While it is surely the case that the Texas Congressman’s career was in steep decline following his indictment on campaign-corruption charges and his forced resignation from the majority leader position, for so long as Tom DeLay remained within grasping reach of the levers of power in Washington, the prospect of a further dismantling of democracy remained all too real.
While I agree wholeheartedly, at the same time we must not let the GOP get away with claiming, like they did with their sham lobbying reform package, that everything is fine now. Everything is not fine now. Republicans still control both houses of Congress with the total discipline DeLay imposed. Debate is limitied, and bills are massaged behind closed doors. The culture of corruption remains, though its Dear Leader may be gone.
From the Washington Post:
DeLay’s decision to resign from the chamber he once ruled with a clenched fist gave some Republicans hope that the party can move beyond a burgeoning corruption scandal as the congressional election season heats up. That scandal so far has led to guilty pleas to corruption charges by lobbyist Jack Abramoff, once a close ally of DeLay’s, and former DeLay aides Michael Scanlon and Tony C. Rudy, who worked with Abramoff after leaving their Capitol Hill jobs.
It is vital that we not allow this debate to become personal. DeLay may or may not be guilty of the offences with which he is charged, but he is certainly guilty of changing the atmosphere in Washington for the worse, and all the voters in the nation must remember that we have the power to change that in November.