Is DeLay going down?

Alternate title: “Has The Hammer met a harder anvil?”

We should all know by now that House Majority Leader and Representative from Texas (22nd District) has been taking it hard on the ol’ ethics front lately. Fundraising and such last year led him to play some back-office games to ensure the ethics committee didn’t do him too much damage.

But the sharks are beginning to circle. There have been reports in the press of ‘dissatisfaction’ of unnamed house members for DeLay’s getting them committed in the Terry Schaivo thing and being on the wrong side of public opinion there (however it played to the grass roots of the party the national polls were against intervention).

And two reports are out there today.

From The Washington Post: DeLay’s Trip in 1997 Questioned

and The New York Times: Political Groups Paid Two Relatives of House Leader

Now, I’m not really trying to judge here. But my interest has always been in how these stories play out. And DeLay has sure been having some hard times of late.

On the other hand, he’s hellaciously powerful and a great political survivor. So whether he can weather this storm is an open question.

So can he? Or will he lose his slot as majority leader or even lose his seat?

I’m thinking that he’s about where Nixon was in March 1973. So I’m hoping the analogy will hold, and DeLay won’t go down until late summer or early fall of 2006.

But it could be sooner. It looks as if the grand juries and other stories out there have created an environment which possibly has caused Dubya to lift the veil of protection which has allowed no Republican to attack Tom DeLay on our soil since 1812, to paraphrase Jerry Falwell. :smiley: Because Republicans are clearly among the leakers now.

Apropos of DeLay’s daughter, here’s a squib from the WaPo from back in 2000, courtesy of Atrios:

Let’s not skip the juicy details!

In your dreams. The House Republicans have already removed ethics constraints specifically to allow Mr. Dealy to continue getting away with his crimes, have they not? And the media paid no significant amount of attention when that happened, right? And the only way that Delay can be removed from office is if the House Ethics Committee, which is controlled by Republicans, decides to take action against him. What’s to stop the committee from simply amending the rules again, as many times as necessary, to redefine all of Delay’s crimes out of existence.

Look. The House Republicans have two options. First they could seriously begin proceedings against Delay. This only brings down a storm of negative publicity. Second, they can continue to assist Delay in covering up his crimes. Tihs brings down no almost negative publicity, as long as the media doesn’t report on Delay’s crimes or on the cover up. And the media, as we all know, is controlled by the Republican Party, so they haven’t seriuosly reported Delay’s crimes in the past and won’t in the future. So what advantage is there, to any House Republican, to turn against Delay?

It was obvious months ago that Delay’s corruption was so massive that it would merit impeachment by any reasonable standard. In a Congress dominated by Republicans, there are no reasonable standards. End of story.

The thread title evokes a horrifying image.

I do not wish to engage in wishful thinking. He may or may not go down. More importantly, he and people like him are the ones who will squander the legacy of Ronald Reagan and split the GOP.

The long-term impact of Mister DeLay and those like him are more interesting (to me) than are the short-term news headlines.

DeLay still has a lot of power and he doesn’t hesitate to use it in his own defense. And many fellow Republicans still instinctively want to avoid a scandal involving one of their most prominent colleagues. But at some point the balance will tip very suddenly. A group of Republicans will gather and decide among themselves that DeLay is hurting the party. Once that decision is made to cut him loose, his downfall will be quick and massive. His current enemies of course will be all over him. But many of his current friends will suddenly become even more extreme in their opposition in order to disassociate themselves from him in his fall.

That is if they have even a milligram of honor left in them. …looking…looking…darn, must be hidden with those WMD…

This is what I’m trying to get at. In the media and politics it’s called ‘critical mass’ when a story goes from little-covered to suddenly being ‘THE STORY!!!’ and has the power to bring down anyone. As Little Nemo defined at some point the party decides they’re better off without him than with him and over the side he goes. It happened to Trent Lott over what is, after all, a very minor point.

I disagree with RTFirefly however, in that if it’s going to happen it will happen sometime this year. Barring something huge breaking there won’t be this sort of thing close to the mid-terms.

That’s pretty much how it is. And if Bush and/or Rove has already decided to let things take their own course, then it’s game over for DeLay; it’s only a matter of time.

But I do think DeLay could hold out until he’s indicted. And since that grand jury hasn’t even been formed yet, that could take awhile.

Not that I enjoy raining on everyone’s parade, but remember this? In the earlier Tom Delay scandal, relating to fundraising in Texas, there was rock-solid evidence of Delay creating and organizing a PAC that shifted money to Republican candidates in exchange, quid pro quo, for certain pieces of legislation. If that wasn’t enough for Delay’s corruption to become “THE STORY”, that what would be? Having sex with an intern, I guess.

Just to put all this in context – from

The date on that column is April 11, 2004. It was hard for a lot of normally newsworthy things to get front-page treatment that month: four American mercenaries had recently gotten fried in Fallujah; Iraq was turning into a conflagration every which way, between the Sunni insurgency in the north and west, and Muqtada al-Sadr’s people in the south; and in a few weeks, the Abu Ghraib story would break. Plus our fair-haired boy Ahmed Chalabi was apparently an Iranian spy, and Bush and the U.N. couldn’t seem to find anyone to lead the interim government which was supposed to take the reins that June.

And - oh, yeah! - we were having a Presidential election too. But even that was getting pushed further down the front page by Iraq. So there just wasn’t much room for DeLay’s problems to become ‘THE STORY’ that month.

But as Josh Marshall points out, old DeLay corruption stories are getting recycled now - stories that didn’t get much notice when they first came out, but that are very much a part of the overall DeLay corruption story, are getting re-run now. It’s piling-on time, apparently.

That’s exactly it. Once the press corps smells blood (which is a combination of damaging stories and an ‘off the record’ feel that the party leadership is thinking DeLay is a liability) they’ll begin hammering the story until there’s some sort of denouement.

I doubt he’ll go down unless he chooses to fall on his own sword. Think Bob Livingstone and Newt Gingrich in late 1998. They could have clung to power if they really wanted to, but preferred not to bog down the party with their own personal issues.

Only if he got drunk and drowned his girlfriend.

Oh. wait…

That depends what your definition of “is” is.

Not until the mid-terms when the voters in his district come to their senses.

In Texas?

Maybe. One can hope.

It also depends on the pubbies themselves. If DeLay even hints he might run for president when they want Jeb, they may take him down themselves. They showed little mercy with McCain.