I’m sure you’ve heard the delightful news, which could be surpassed only by an announcement that Dick Cheney is stepping down or Karl Rove is being indicted. No such luck there. Yet. But we should be grateful for large favors.
And Tom DeLay’s decision to not run for reelection is rich indeed.
Under a menacing cloud of scandal, an ever-tightening indictment, and a likely defeat at the polls, DeLay bowed out.
His public statement was misleadingly entitled “Address to the Constituents of the 22nd District of Texas.” It should have at least added: “and to My Fellow Conservative Stalwarts.”
Because it was a valedictory for the conservative movement of the last 25 years.
He said he has been “proud to make whatever contribution I could to the conservative movement to which I feel so strongly connected.”
And he ran down what he considered to be those accomplishments.
“Partial-birth abortion has been banned,” he said, and “the new Supreme court is home to two of the finest young jurists of their generation.”
He also hailed, among other things, “litigation reform” and the deregulation “in energy, telecommunications, transportation, and other areas as well”—his paybacks to corporate contributors.
A partisan hack to the end, he said he is stepping down to give the Republicans a better chance at keeping his seat.
“I refuse to allow liberal Democrats an opportunity to steal this seat with a negative, personal campaign,” he said, adding a little bit later: “As difficult as this decision has been for me, it’s not going to be a great day for liberal Democrats, either.” Says who?
No matter who wins the seat in November, it is a great day not not only for liberal Democrats but for progressives in general and for anyone who wants to clean House.
For DeLay engaged in some of the most corrupt practices ever performed under that dome.
He used his enormous fundraising power, magnified by Jack Abramoff’s money machine, to extort political advantage.
“He was the most powerful leader in my time here,” Rep. Barney Frank told Lou Dubose in an article in the April issue of The Progressive entitled “DeLay’s Day of Reckoning?” Frank said DeLay had the “ability to influence local races because he was supported by Abramoff.” Anyone who strayed from DeLay’s line was threatened with a rightwing challenger funded to the gills by Abramoff, Frank said.
Even as he was heading to the exits, DeLay pledged his energies to the rightwing cause, vowing to “continue to contribute to and engage in the policy, political, and cultural issues of national importance to the conservative majority.”
And he gave an unsubtle hint of Republican campaign tactics in the months ahead. “A Democrat Congress in 2007 would,” he said, “without doubt or remorse, raise hundreds of billions of dollars in taxes, summarily cut and run from the war on terror, and immediately initiate an unconstitutional impeachment of President Bush.”
Now a supplicant, he heaped praise on “the great moral integrity and leadership” of his potential pardoner, George W. Bush.
But none of DeLay’s words could ease his shame-coated departure. To it all, there is a sense of just desserts.
Like some bad Shakespearean character, DeLay for two decades acted as though he were invincible. (“I am the government,” he reportedly said once.)
Fortunately, time and a couple of aggressive prosecutors have proven him quite vincible.
And now he’s been laid low, returning him to his natural level.
Champagne all around.