Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
May 11, 2005
POLITICS: DeLay Not DeOnly One
I've generally not blogged about the various ethics claims raised against Tom DeLay, mainly because it's hard to stick a toe into the subject without triggering insistent demands to denounce anything and everything DeLay-related without exception. My general impression from the things I've read thus far is that the charges against DeLay are something of a mixed bag - some are self-evidently bogus (like giving jobs to his family), some are ethically indefensible but apparently legal and commonplace, and on some the jury is still out as far as the facts.
I would generally agree that the aggregation of charges can ultimately justify the need to get rid of even an effective political leader even if no one charge is fatal, and of course I don't want to fall into the various traps of the Clinton bitter-enders, such as (a) assuming that because some of the charges are bogus, they must all be, or (b) accepting "everybody does it" as a complete defense even when your guy is by far the worst offender. On the other hand, a political party, like any other large organization, does owe its members some loyalty, some willingness to give their own guy the benefit of the doubt on the close calls, and the fact that a practice is common is always relevant to the degree of its impropriety. Short answer: I haven't entirely made up my mind yet on whether there's sufficient basis for Republicans to dump DeLay.
With that caveat out of the way, this is a very interesting study on privately-funded Congressional travel. Turns out that, to no one's surprise, the Democrats live in one very large glass house on this issue, and while DeLay is one of the worse offenders, he certainly doesn't stand out, with the top 8 slots all going to Democrats, including moderates like John Breaux and Evan Bayh and far-left nutballs like Maxine Waters, Maurice Hinchey and Jim McDermott. (It's also amusing that Henry Waxman is right behind DeLay).