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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

One Thing We Can All Agree On

Today’s Washington Post has an article by Mike Allen that amplifies earlier reports that conservative activists and House GOP factotums are gearing up for a campaign to defend the embattled Tom DeLay, with a message that (a) all his troubles come from a liberal plot financed by George Soros, and (b) if DeLay goes down, the GOP and the conservative movement go right down with him. Point (a) especially amuses me, since, well, people like me and my employers, the DLC, have been as angry and outspoken about DeLay’s abuses of power as anybody, and personally, I haven’t come within shouting distance of a single Soros dollar, and few would describe the DLC as part of some vast left-wing conspiracy.But point (b) is more interesting, insofar as it suggests the DeLay mess may reflect more broadly on the ethical standards and priorities of the GOP and the conservative movement as a whole. And there’s a good argument they are right about that one. Who in the Republican Party, after all, complained about the Great Texas Power Grab of 2003, the DeLay-engineered re-redistricting scheme that led to one of his ethics problems, and to criminal indictments of some of his cronies? Who in the Republican Party has objected to the K Street Strategy, the DeLay-Santorum-Norquist campaign to force lobbying firms and trade associations to skew campaign contributions and staff hirings to the GOP or sacrifice access to bill-drafting? And up until now, who has drawn attention to the hyper-sleazy lobbying practices of close DeLay associates (and big-time GOP operatives) Jack Abramoff and Michael Scanlon, whose Indian Casino Scandal may yet produce collateral damage among Republicans on a level not seen since Teapot Dome? More generally, how many Republicans have been willing to disassociate themselves from the whole Bush-era GOP fiscal/political strategy of hustling high-end tax cuts, corporate subsidies, and friendly legislation and regulatory actions in exchange for hard-line support for “our team?” Well, there’s John McCain, but the list grows short after that. So as we get further into Tom DeLay’s unhappy hour of scrutiny, it’s fine with me if his defenders get their way, and we review his record of leadership as indicative and exemplary for his party and his ideological soul-mates in this period of total GOP domination of the federal government. Let’s just all agree we are living in the DeLay Era of national politics, and let the chips fall where they may. As L’Affaire DeLay goes, so goes the nation? Deal.

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