Saturday, January 07, 2006

Tom Delay Quits House Leadership

That was fast. Just yesterday a few House Republican moderates and bona fide conservatives floated a petition calling for new House GOP leadership elections to select a new House majority leader.

Today, according to the Associated Press, Delay quit the majority leader post for good:

Embattled Rep. Tom DeLay decided Saturday to give up his post as House majority leader, clearing the way for new leadership elections among House Republicans eager to shed the taint of scandal, two officials said.

These officials said DeLay, R-Texas, was preparing a letter informing fellow House Republicans of his decision. These officials spoke on condition of anonymity, saying they did not want to pre-empt the formal announcement.

DeLay is battling campaign finance charges in Texas and was forced to step aside temporarily as majority leader last fall after he was charged in his home state. He has consistently maintained his innocence and said he intended to resume his leadership post once cleared.

His about-face came amid growing pressure from fellow Republicans who were concerned about their own political futures in the wake of this week's guilty pleas by lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

Missouri Rep. Roy Blunt, the party whip who temporarily has filled in for DeLay, was expected to run for majority leader.

Rep. John Boehner of Ohio, a former member of the leadership, is also likely to run.

Elections are likely the week of Jan. 30, when lawmakers return to the Capitol.

DeLay intends to remain in Congress, these officials said, and plans to seek a new term in November.

DeLay acted hours after a small vanguard of Republicans circulated a petition calling for leadership elections and citing DeLay's legal problems as well as his long ties to Abramoff.

This is part of the GOP's strategy to get out in front of the corruption problem and make it look like Republicans are cleaning themselves up before voters do it for them in the 2006 midterm elections.

Unfortunately for the GOP, part of the reason they have such a stranglehold on power is BECAUSE of the corruption, the lobbying money, and the hard-ass politics. If the GOP were to actually reform politics and end "business as usual" on K Street, Republicans will lose a lot of their entrenched money/power advantages over Democrats.

So the GOP is a bit fucked no matter what they do here: if the truly clean themselves up, they risk losing much of their money/power advantages over the Dems; if they pull a Potemkin reform movement and only make it look like they're reforming, they will still pay a price come next November. Plus, more names will come out in the Abramoff scandal and more GOP politicians are going to be frog-marched into court. The CIA leak case is still hovering over the administration and Karl Rove may yet be indicted on pejury/conspiracy/false statement charges. And TIME Magazine reports that Randy "Duke" Cunningham, the former Republican Congressman from California who resigned from Congress in November after pleading guilty to corruption charges in a defense contracting scandal was wearing a wire for the prosecution in the days before his guilty plea was made public. Was Cunningham wired to tape crooked defense contractors or was he taping fellow Republican Congressmen who are also on the take? Hard to tell, but the questions about the case sure are intriguing.

No matter what happens in the next few months, the corruption scandal is NOT going away no matter how the GOP deals with it. 2006 is the Year of the Frog-March and as Tom Delay, Bob Ney, John Doolittle, Conrad Burns, Scooter Libby, Karl Rove, Stephen Hadley, Randy Cunningham, Jack Abramoff, David Safavian, et al. make their court appearances, voters will be reminded that these are indeed GOP scandals.

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