Tom DeLay has been charged with felony criminal conspiracy – hallelujah! It’s about time.
You know the Republicans are in trouble when they bring out the big rhetorical guns. "This is one of the weakest, most baseless indictments in American history," DeLay said after being indicted by a grand jury on Wednesday.
The indictment of DeLay, who now holds the honor of being the highest-ranking member of Congress in history to be charged with a felony while in office, has forced him to step aside as majority leader in the House of Representatives.
"I have notified the speaker that I will temporarily step aside from my position as majority leader pursuant to rules of the House Republican Conference and the actions of the Travis County District Attorney," DeLay said in a statement. His adherence to the rules may seem less than gracious, considering he gutted the House Ethics Committee rules last year.
Then in January, the House voted to overturn a rule that Tom “The Hammer” DeLay had forced through the Ethics Committee that would have allowed him to remain majority leader if he was indicted. Now he has been indicted, as he foresaw he could be, and there is no convenient safety net to keep him in his job.
The charges stem from his attempt to get Republicans elected to the Texas Legislature. In 2002, the party won the state House and then redistricted the federal map of Texas so they could send more Republicans to the U.S. House. This gerrymandering was so blatantly illegal that all the House Democrats fled Texas to deny the House a quorum, but over time “The Hammer” won.
The problem he had getting those Texas legislators elected was that they could not accept corporate contributions. So he formed Texans for a Republican Majority Political Action Committee and had corporations donate money to that organization.
He then gave the donated money to the Republican National Committee, which in turn gave the money to the Texas legislators, who spent that corporate money on advertising, and got elected.
The Texans got elected, and the Republicans got a majority. The redistricting plan will unfairly benefit Republicans until the 2010 census when it can be redrawn. The Hammer won, but he cheated to do it. Now he is paying the price for money laundering.
DeLay is not the only Republican facing trouble. His replacement as majority leader, Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), is being scrutinized for paying $88,000 in fees to a consultant under indictment in the same case as DeLay. The Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist for insider trading. And George Bush, while not being investigated for stealing two elections in a row, is still faced with mounting criticism over the war in Iraq and the federal response to Hurricane Katrina.
Could this be the end of one-party government?
It didn’t seem so long ago when anything George Bush said was taken as gospel. When Bush said that the economy was doing well, it was believed by everyone in the mainstream press and echoed by the prophets at Fox News. When he publicly doubted the existence of global warming, people suddenly used the phrase “so-called” before uttering the words “greenhouse gases.” When he said “Freedom is on the march” out of one side of his mouth, many people in the U.S. nodded in agreement as the Patriot Act took their freedoms away. And when he said in 2000 “There ought to be limits to freedom,” we conveniently forgot.
As Bush’s fifth year in the Oval Office (and 11th month of vacation) draws to a close, his infinite power for wielding the truth has finally come into doubt. The public’s discontent over the war in Iraq has been building as solidly as the resistance. Our continued presence in Iraq, and our insistence that the many factions of religious, ethnic and political powers be denied the right to fight it out for themselves, has cost nothing but lives and frustration. Even the lapdog media has begun questioning Bush’s changing rationale for invading a country that presented no threat to us.
Two years ago, the political climate was such that any Republican National Committee member was always right, and all who wanted consideration for the civil liberties of any who were not rich and well-fed were as good as terrorists. Finally, this grand delusion is changing. We are emerging from the Orwellian world where Bush can successfully “reframe reality to match his design,” as Time Magazine said when they named him their Man of the Year, 70 years after granting Adolf Hitler the same honor.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi characerized DeLay’s ethical lapse as "the latest example that Republicans in Congress are plagued by a culture of corruption at the expense of the American people." For the first time in years, a Democratic accusation is not being portrayed in the mainstream media as partisanship, but as justice.
Justice has been “DeLayed” for too long.