It’s Time For Tom DeLay To Go

As most of you undoubtedly already know, Tom DeLay has been indicted on dubious charges by a prosecutor with a history of politically motivated prosecutions. Even setting aside frivolous prosecutions past, Ronnie Earle, the prosecutor, has actually raised money for a Democratic PAC by publicly attacking Tom DeLay, so he’s one step away from “Michael Moore territory” when it comes to political bias.

Still, we’ve got to wonder: are the charges valid? At this early point, there hasn’t been time for a lot of analysis from the legal eagles, but judging by what I’ve read from Mark Levin and Media Blog, it sounds likely that DeLay will skate when it’s said and done.

That being said, this indictment will result in the mainstream media spending months loudly and gleefully accusing DeLay of corruption while darkly hinting that he’s guilty. The media’s job will be made much easier by the fact that DeLay has well known ties to crooked lobbyist Jack Abramoff and has been previously admonished by the House ethics panel multiple times.

Most Republicans, for the moment at least, will stick by Tom DeLay’s side and insist that they want him back as Majority Leader after he beats the rap.

That is a mistake.

At one time, Tom DeLay was a great conservative leader of the House. Unfortunately, he has been in Washington too long. If you doubt that, you need look no further than his now infamous assertion that the GOP has achieved an “ongoing victory” over spending.

Moreover, while President Bush has taken plenty of well deserved shots for his big spending ways and inept political maneuvers of late, Tom DeLay is just as deserving of scorn as Bush is from conservatives. Yes, DeLay has done a better job of keeping Republicans in line in the House than Frist has done in the Senate, but if DeLay is wielding the whip to push through things like the Medicare prescription drug benefit & Highway Bill pork, why should conservatives be applauding?

For the moment, the House GOP has selected Roy Blunt to keep Tom DeLay’s seat warm until he returns. But, instead of an interim appointment, what they need to do is select a permanent replacement. Republicans pulled out the long knives and got rid of Newt Gingrich when they decided he was a liability and, quite frankly, DeLay isn’t half the leader that Newt was.

What Republicans in the House need to understand is that there’s a time to “stand by your man” and there is a time to turn a crisis into an opportunity. This would seem to be the opportune time for House Republicans to get rid of the biggest spending Majority Leader in history while also appearing to take a tough stand against corruption. They should make the most of it.

*** Update #1 ***: Apparently, there are at least a few Republicans in the House who are thinking along these same lines. From the WAPO:

“When DeLay’s indictment was unsealed yesterday, conservatives in the GOP caucus immediately erupted in anger over rumors that the selection of Dreier, whom they regard as too moderate, was being presented as a fait accompli .

As the conservatives met to vent frustrations and plot options, Hastert was changing course in a separate meeting on the second floor of the Capitol. Rep. Roy Blunt (Mo.), the majority whip, was making a personal appeal for the promotion. Hastert agreed, forestalling a possible revolt by conservatives, who regard Blunt as one of their own.

The wild day of maneuvering made clear that beneath the image of lockstep discipline in the House — which DeLay himself enforced for years — the GOP caucus is rife with ambitious personalities in not-so-subtle competition. With DeLay sidelined, it will fall largely to Hastert to move President Bush’s agenda and to maintain order among an increasingly restless crowd as the 2006 elections approach.

Hastert’s challenge was vividly highlighted yesterday by the mood at a private late-afternoon meeting of the House Republican Conference, with nearly all members in attendance.

Some lawmakers, such as Zach Wamp (Tenn.) challenged Republican leaders to set a date for formal leadership elections instead of allowing party bosses to impose their choices. At the same time, conservatives such as Steve Buyer (Ind.) rose to say Republicans should have allowed DeLay to remain majority leader even with an indictment. Earlier this year, under pressure from Democrats and a few in his own party, Hastert reversed a rule designed expressly for DeLay that would have allowed indicted leaders to retain their positions.

Rep. Tom Feeney (Fla.) said afterward that the rules change “was like waving a red flag to Ronnie Earle,” the Texas prosecutor who pushed for DeLay’s indictment. Feeney said some conservatives may push for still another reversal, allowing DeLay to return even before his legal problems are resolved.

Despite the brave face, however, many Republicans said privately it is unlikely DeLay will return to his leadership position anytime soon, if ever. This would open the door for members such as Rep. John A. Boehner (Ohio), chairman of the House education committee, to run for a leadership position. Blunt, a teacher turned politician who first was elected to the House in 1996, is at least temporarily now the number two Republican in the House.”

Sounds like there may be a quiet a power struggle in the works. Count me in on whichever side is looking to oust DeLay.

*** Update #2 ***: It’s Time For Tom DeLay To Go Part 2

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