Wednesday, October 5, 2005
I do plainly and ingenuously confess that I am guilty of corruption, and do renounce all defense and do beseech your Lordships to be merciful to a broken reed.
— Francis Bacon, on being charged with corruption in Office
He’s clearly not as bad as the press makes him out to be. But it’s easy to overlook that fact if one focuses on his conduct instead of his defenders.
It would be impossible in a space as small as this to describe all of Mr. DeLay’s conduct that has had the unfortunate result of giving him a reputation of being a ruthless, power mad, egotistical and unscrupulous politician who stops at nothing to accomplish his ends. His antics have included such whimsies as commandeering a government airplane in order to hunt down Texas democratic legislators playing hide and seek with their Republican counterparts, to promising retiring Representative Nick Smith he would support Mr. Smith’s son in the son’s bid to replace his father if Mr. Smith would vote for the prescription drug bill. Although a man of unquestioned integrity, Mr. DeLay was admonished three times by a prissy House ethics committee for violating rules pertaining to House members’ interaction with registered lobbyists.
Contrary to what the admonishments of Mr. DeLay suggest, he was and remains, very sensitive to any suggestion that he is unethical. He was even more sensitive to the possibility that if a Texas Grand Jury questioned his integrity by issuing an indictment, he would, under House rules, have to give up his position as majority leader in the House. To avoid that possibility, he and his Republican colleagues voted to amend the rule that would have required such draconian action. The revised rule said the party steering committee would decide if the conduct for which a person in a leadership position in the House was criminally indicted was the sort of bad crime that would embarrass House members were the defendant to continue in a leadership role, or a not very bad crime that would not have that effect.
The change meant that if indicted, Mr. DeLay would be able to keep his post since it was believed unlikely he would be charged with a bad crime. The new rule, appropriate as it was, produced such an outcry that it was replaced by the old rule, Mr. DeLay has been indicted, and there is a new Majority Leader in the House. It doesn’t seem right and if you doubt it, listen to Mr. DeLay’s own words.
Mr. DeLay is a devout Christian who once said he was God-sent to “stand up for a biblical world view in everything I do and everywhere I am.” He wants to establish America as a “God-centered nation.” God will surely not permit the prosecution of such a righteous man to succeed. He will, as the rest of us have, listen to Pat Robertson and David Brooks and not to Austin’s district attorney, Ronnie Earle who has a political agenda.
Pat Robertson is famous for his pancake recipe described on his website and for his recent suggestion that it would be appropriate for someone to murder Venezuela’s president, Hugo Chávez. When not promoting the creation of pancakes and corpses, Mr. Robertson is, like Mr. DeLay, engaged in the Lord’s work. Within a couple of days of Mr. DeLay’s descent into legal purgatory, Mr. DeLay appeared on Mr. Robertson’s television program. They did not talk cooking or murder. They talked about what a good person Mr. DeLay is and what a bad person the Austin district attorney is.
The New York Time’s David Brooks is another defender. So florid were his phrases in an op-ed piece appearing two days after Mr. DeLay’s descent into purgatory that it was necessary to read his column repeatedly to make sure Mr. Brooks was not mocking Mr. DeLay. He was not.
Mr. Brooks said: “DeLay was never the ruthless tyrant news media reports made him out to be. He’s actually a modest, decent and considerate man.” He went on to say that: “DeLay didn’t do anything for personal enrichment.”
Mr. Brooks was probably unaware that Mr. Brooks was affectionately called The Hammer by his colleagues, a sobriquet bestowed by those unfamiliar with his decent and considerate qualities. Mr. Brooks probably missed news of Mr. DeLay’s trip to England and Scotland paid for by lobbyists in contravention of House rules. It cost dozens of thousands of dollars and was only modest if one twisted the meaning of the word.
Mr. Robertson is a man of the cloth and Mr. Brooks a man of the press. They would not tell their followers Mr. DeLay is a good man if they didn’t believe it. It’s too bad his conduct speaks louder than their words.