This morning’s papers brought glad tidings: Tom (the Hammer) DeLay, after a long consultation with his pollsters and lawyers, has decided to resign from Congress, apparently next month. And in order to allow Texas GOPers to hand-pick a replacement (he has already won the primary for the November General Election), he is abandoning his Texas residency, which legally disqualifies him from the ballot, and formally becoming a resident of Alexandria, Virginia.It’s hard to exaggerate the power this unpleasant and ruthless man has wielded in Washington until recently, and hard to believe the lack of even minimal contrition he is exhibiting now that he’s been all but forced to resign. Just last week, he delivered a fiery speech to a Christian conservative gathering that implied he was a victim of discrimination for his faith. Indeed, his need to wallow in self-pity and invite his last-ditch supporters to do the same led him perilously close to expressing hatred of America: “We are, after all, a society that provides abortion on demand, has killed millions of innocent children, degrades the institution of marriage and all but treats Christianity like some second-rate superstition.” No wonder, then, that our infidel nation would contrive to find fault with DeLay’s crass and chronic money-hustling and power-muscling behavior in Washington and in Texas, eh?DeLay’s invincible arrogance was nicely illustrated by a couple of comments he’s made after disclosing his intention to resign. As Think Progress reports, he told Time Magazine that his proudest accomplishment in office was in skewing K Street campaign contributions to the GOP. And this morning, appearing on Fox News, he luridly suggested that the Republican-controlled Texas legislature would soon act to strip Travis County prosecutor Ronnie Earle of jurisdiction to pursue cases like the corporate campaign violations for which DeLay was indicted last year.The timing of DeLay’s announcement is pretty easy to figure out: as the Republican nominee for the General Election, he’s been able to amass a little over $1.2 million in campaign contributions.Now he can convert that money to his already-depleted legal defense fund, essentially tricking his contributors into banking his efforts to stay out of the hoosegow, as TPMMuckraker explained today. No wonder the Rev. Rick Scarborough, host of the pity party where DeLay made his Blame America First remarks last week, said of the Hammer: “This is a man, I believe, God has appointed … to represent righteousness in government.”The Bugman’s next move will apparently be to hook up with some conservative organization in his new home turf of Northern Virginia. Don’t be too surprised if he lands some lucrative consulting and lobbying contracts as well: After all, the Republican-controlled House remains largely his creature, even if he’s no longer directly pulling the strings.
TDS Strategy Memos
Latest Research from:
By Ed Kilgore
Watching an intra-Democratic argument on voting rights strategy intensify in Washington, I offered some advice to both sides at New York:
There has been an underlying disagreement within the mostly Democratic coalition favoring voting rights that was nicely captured in this New York Times report on Friday:
“A quiet divide between President Biden and the leaders of the voting rights movement burst into the open on Thursday, as 150 organizations urged him to use his political mettle to push for two expansive federal voting rights bills that would combat a Republican wave of balloting restrictions … In private calls with voting rights groups and civil rights leaders, White House officials and close allies of the president have expressed confidence that it is possible to ‘out-organize voter suppression,’ according to multiple people familiar with the conversations.”
Both sides in this argument are partly wrong. Those who expect Joe Biden to force the For the People Act or the John Lewis Voting Rights Act through the Senate via some major revision in the ability to filibuster are probably expecting the impossible. Yes, perhaps if Biden personally and insistently and abrasively lobbied Arizona’s Kyrsten Sinema to abandon her very consistent defense of the filibuster, up to and including encouragement of a primary challenge to her when she is up for reelection in 2024, she might decide her current and very insistent independent-maverick “branding” isn’t going to keep working for her. But Joe Manchin? He would be thrilled to get attacked by a Democratic president or Democratic advocacy groups for insisting that he won’t support voting-rights measures unless at least some Republicans support them. His state is so very red that the threat of a primary challenge to the sole remaining successful West Virginia Democrat is a laugher.
Short of a nuclear attack on West Virginia, it’s hard to identify anything Biden might do to Manchin that wouldn’t run a high risk of backfiring. And he does need Manchin on the reconciliation bills Democrats are using to get around the filibuster to enact Biden’s social and economic agenda. It’s just too bad voting-rights bills don’t qualify for reconciliation.
Yes, it is intensely frustrating that Biden cannot bring himself to come out forthrightly for filibuster reform, but it probably doesn’t matter since it is not happening unless the Democratic Senate Conference gets bigger, making senators like Manchin and Sinema irrelevant on the subject. So at some point voting-rights advocates need to focus on that goal.
At the same time, White House claims that Democrats can “out-organize voter suppression” are partially wrong as well. Yes, restrictive provisions like voter-ID requirements, limits on voting by mail, and even voter-roll purges can be countered and perhaps overcome by intensive efforts to educate and energize the voters Republicans are trying to keep from the polls. But you cannot out-organize a partisan gerrymander, or a law that lets election officials or state legislators overturn the outcome of an election after votes are cast.
Voting-rights advocates will eventually have to play the cards dealt to them by the system as it currently exists. That means refraining from too much anger aimed at Democratic pols who have little choice but to concede defeat on some legislation and concentrate on legislation (i.e., those reconciliation bills with many items vital to the people whose voting rights are also under attack) they can enact with no margin for error in the Senate and little in the House. At the same time, Biden and his staff and Democratic “pragmatists” in Congress should never for a moment be cavalier about the legislative obstacles they face in defending democracy itself. They may have to accept a tactical defeat on voting rights in this Congress. But they should never, ever, give up on making it happen later if not sooner.