Thursday, April 21, 2005

Tom DeLay: Smoke and mirrors, or ethics problems?

The truth about the Tom DeLay flap is that there is apparently no “there” there. The Republican House Majority Leader is under attack for alleged ethics violations, and his enemies use the allegations as a basis for demanding his resignation as Republican leader.

The media report such things as this from NBC: "Storm clouds are gathering on Capitol Hill, and at the center of the storm is the House Majority Leader, Texas Congressman Tom DeLay." The problem with that is that the dark clouds NBC reported are primarily other reports of the allegations. Dark clouds like these produce no rain, and are meaningless.

CBS showed a tiny crowd of perhaps 150 people standing outside the NRA convention in Houston as DeLay spoke. Question: Why did this puny demonstration deserve national news coverage? CBS also thought it needed to comment that some people in the protesters claimed to be conservative Republicans. “Claimed” to be Republicans?

The House ethics committee admonished DeLay three times. Notice that he wasn’t sanctioned or ruled to have acted unethically or inappropriately. He was merely admonished.

What that means is that DeLay did what many other politicians have done and will do, and they weren’t and won’t be sanctioned for it, either. He did not cross the ethical boundary; he did nothing wrong. The worst anyone can honestly take from the Ethics Committee’s action is that he navigated close to the edge. But standing just this side of wrongdoing is not wrongdoing.

In such situations it is said, “death comes from a thousand cuts.” What this basically means for DeLay is that in the absence of real evidence of real wrongdoing, if the Democrats and the media dream up enough accusations, the accusations alone might be enough for Republican leaders to withdraw their support for him.

DeLay’s problem is that he has been an effective leader for his party. Nothing succeeds like success when it comes to making enemies of your enemies.

If he has been unethical, let’s dispense with the insinuation and innuendo, and bring on some actual evidence. Short of that, the DeLay haters ought to sit down and shut up. And his fellow Republicans ought to stiffen their spines, and remove the yellow tint that is developing.


JL Pagano said...

It's all part and parcel of the drawbacks of the duopoly that is American politics. When one side has control, the other spends as much time digging for dirt on their conquerors as they do coming up with policies that will get them back in.

I doubt it will be long before the Democrats unearth their own answer to Kenneth Starr to produce precisely the evidence of which you speak. That doesn't necessarily mean I'll believe it, mind you.

James Shott said...

You might think that the Dems would allow the Ethics Committee to operate, since that's its job.

Instead, they want to play games.

All their complaints about rule changes and such seems to me to be nothing more than a dodge.