Washington Times: Have you ever crossed the line of ethical behavior in terms of dealing with lobbyists, your use of government authority or with fund-raising?
Mr. DeLay: Ever is a very strong word. …
Tom DeLay is in trouble. Taking a beating from all sides and members of both parties, he is being accused of a series of ethics violations from bribes and lobbyist-backed vacations to unethical corporate donations to his legal defense fund and campaign payments to his family members. The House majority leader was the majority whip during the Republican Revolution of the ’90s that promised to turn the tide on liberal corruption in Congress. Now, at least the public perception is that the tables are turning on DeLay.
The liberal Republican senator from Connecticut, Christopher Shays, said this week that he believes DeLay should step down, while Pennsylvania’s Rick Santorum has expressed a desire for DeLay to step forward to an investigation so his constituents can “decide, whether they want to approve that kind of behavior or not.” The fact is, whether or not these accusations are a concocted conspiracy of the left, as congressional Republicans are saying, the public image of the majority leader is being marred more and more each day. If former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott was called to step down from his leadership position for misspeaking at a birthday party, the future certainly isn’t bright for the representative from Texas.
If the accusations are true, it will be interesting to see the political outcome. Will the party stick its neck out for its own leader? If the march continues, one will only expect the GOP to value the polls before valuing leadership loyalty. Yet, whatever the Capitol Hill politicians do, it’s more interesting to see the reaction from the grass-roots party members – the people tied more to ideas than politics.
Just a few days ago, Rush Limbaugh lambasted Shays and Santorum, essentially saying that an attack on DeLay is an attack on conservatism. Among conservative pundits, the media-bias card is on the table with the talking point being that DeLay is being attacked by the media because of his “effective leadership.” While we expect politicians to do their duty to advance their own self-seeking careers, I wonder why those outside the beltway are expected to follow the progress-stopping routine of partisanship, specifically when it comes to corruption.
The ideas of conservatism are not tied to whether or not the 20-year-old congressional career of Tom DeLay is successful. For conservatives, the ends shouldn’t justify the means of passing over corruption in favor of power – never mind the fact that it would be unpopular; such a political move begets more and more corruption. Yet, maybe that’s not even a consideration. While submitting to an investigation and accepting whatever is true would be the right thing to do, perhaps the arrogance of a party that controls two-thirds of the federal government is in the way.
I’m not so na?ve to say the Democrats are without ulterior motive – neither party is pure. Even though the left has an ulterior motive in bringing down DeLay, facts are still facts. Either DeLay is one of the most ethically challenged representatives in Congress, or he isn’t. And it certainly is hard to believe that some PAC created a slew of ethics accusations out of thin air, and everyone is either falling for it or spreading slander out of some sort of liberal conspiracy. If it is slander, perhaps DeLay should be suing for defamation of character to clear his name. Instead, Republicans are attacking House Democrats on energy policy and threatening the judiciary with what can only be assumed to be impeachment over the right-to-life issue.
Whatever happens, it’s wearisome to turn to bastions of conservatism and only find flimsy arguments for why DeLay should not face an investigation. This Republican movement came to Washington touting integrity. Today, we’re not witnessing a sexual scandal in the White House, but we are witnessing a possible scandal of campaign fraud and House rules violations. Even so, according to some, we’re supposed to be content with this. Somehow I wonder if this is what Reagan envisioned when he talked about the “Eleventh Commandment.”