Tuesday, April 04, 2006
Belay DeLay -- a few thoughts about the "Hammer" bowing out
It's a time-honored tradition in Washington that whenever someone gives you an explanation for something, you immediately start digging for the real reasons why. And so it is with the announcement that Tom DeLay will not seek reelection to represent Texas' 22nd Congressional District.

DeLay said today that the fight just wouldn't be worth it, that "liberal Democrats were trying to steal his seat with personal attacks..." and that while he is confident he would have prevailed, it would have been a nasty and expensive battle, and that he, not the issues, would be the story. While it's an open question whether DeLay would have won reelection, the rest is certainly true. But are those the only reasons?

DeLay's troubles -- the indictments, his forced ouster from the position of majority leader and swirling suspicions about his possible connections to Jack Abramoff -- had made him a lightning rod. Controversy is nothing new for DeLay. In fact, he often relishes it. But in an election year when Republicans are hyperventilating about the prospect of losing the House and Senate, anything that distracts from the issues on which they'd like to run is unwelcome. You'll notice that while Republicans said glowing things about DeLay today, not one publicly encouraged him to stay and fight.

DeLay swears he did nothing wrong in either the Texas case for which he is under indictment or the Abramoff scandal. But the latter hit very close to the bone last week when a former DeLay aide, Tony Rudy, pleaded guilty to conspiracy for his dealings with Abramoff. No surprise that people are wondering how much further the former lobbyist's tentacles reached into the halls of power.

DeLay's departure from the scene -- expected in late May or early June -- robs the Democrats of a potent arrow in their election year quiver. While all politics are local, Democrats were anxious to turn the battle for the 22nd District into a national issue by holding up DeLay as "poster boy" for what they call the Republicans' "culture of corruption." With DeLay off the stage, Howard Dean and company will be left to point to Randy "Duke" Cunningham as the national example of bad behavior. But Cunningham has already been sentenced. There's not much more to talk about there. An active investigation always makes better fuel for partisan attacks.

Any way you shape it, Congress won't be the same without the "Hammer." For some people, that's a good thing. But DeLay is one of those characters, who, love him or hate him, is a rich part of the American political process, one of those colorful figures whom history remembers. What is unclear at this point is what history will remember him for.
Posted By John Roberts, CNN Senior Correspondent: 4:38 PM ET
  46 Comments
Being an Independent, the one thing that erks me is the childish tactics used by both parties during elections. Its really sad when adults revert to childish acts during campaigns when they are trusted to make important decisions for this great nation. If Delay's "bowing out" will prevent that, kudos to him for not being a part of it; but who knows if this is his intention.
Posted By Anonymous JP, Las Cruces, New Mexico : 5:10 PM ET
As a Texas and a Republican, I'm so grateful that he stepped down. Way too much power, way too much deceit. It's time for a change, and I strongly encourage everyone to step up, vote, make a change because a huge change in this country needs to occur. Most important is to destroy the political machine of Washington DC and give the power back to the people. Vote your voice, not your party. Vote your conscience and raise your voice loudly until the politicians begin to hear what is really important to the American people.

Tom Delay may have done a great deal of good, but he will have a dark cloud over those good works because he chose to become involved with people who were less than honest. He's misused funds. He can't excuse these things away. He should be held up to a higher accountability and when he no longer can, then it's time for him to leave.

I wish he and his family well. It's time to find someone, anyone else to represent all of us. The American people deserve better...we need to demand more, expect more of our politicians.
Posted By Anonymous K, Houston, TX : 5:11 PM ET
You speak of Delay as if he is worthy of respect. Are you crazy? Where have you been? Do you not know what this man has done to a great American institution, the United States Congress?
Posted By Anonymous Barbara Cohen Ehrlich, Phoenix, AZ : 5:12 PM ET
Who says that the investigation into Delay's wrongdoing will suddenly no longer be "active" simply because he resigned from his Congressional seat? The Abramoff/Scanlon/Rudy/Delay connections will be revealed. His resignation does not take away the issue that the Republicans have with corruption. And this move on his part does not "disrupt" the Democratic party in any way. Delay is still the "poster boy" for what is wrong with the republican party.
Posted By Anonymous KL, Chicago, IL : 5:31 PM ET
are you kidding me? Tom DeLay will be remembered as the most corrupt politician in U.S. history. He needs to be convicted and put away for a very long time because he's going to continue being the Hammer, just in the private sector now. Best of luck to the state of Virginia. Texas says good riddance.
Posted By Anonymous T. Elliott, Spring Branch, Texas : 5:36 PM ET
It's really a shock that you write about DeLay as if we are losing someone of substance who is worth our respect and admiration. He isn't. This "good christian" (gag me)is trying to hide behind religion and blame anybody and everybody who doesn't meet with his agenda. He is a criminal at best, and deserves to be treated as such. As a Texan, I am appauled by the corruption, the "wink & nod" deceit and the blatant avorice and greed. I hope they throw the book at him and his ilk.
Posted By Anonymous TJ Penfield, Coppell, TX : 5:40 PM ET
Please don't glorify Delay as a colorful character while depicting the Dems as out of ammunition. This gives power to one and diminishes the other without justification.

This can only be good for the people of Texas and is encouraging commentary for the voters who had been beaten into depression about the state of American politics!
Posted By Anonymous Representative Houde-Quimby, Plainfield, NH : 5:41 PM ET
You make a great point that an on-going investigation is more valuable than a politician whose fate has already been decided. However, with "The Hammer" and "Duke" out of Congress, couldn't Democrats run a campaign saying they want to continue to "Clean House"? Point out that Cunningham and DeLay were both Republicans who used their positions to better themselves and not the country and that this is a Republican value. I feel this issue could still help Democrats gain seats.
Posted By Anonymous Jeff from Stamford, CT : 5:43 PM ET
Without a well defined, comprehensive and enforced set of laws in a society, the people cannot benefit from democracy. While it may not be perfect, I am glad to say that the democratic system in our country really works.

I grew up in a society where lack of respect for the rule of law has made it difficult for the people to benefit from a very young democracy... Nigeria. As a result I have a great deal of respect for the American democratic system because I have seen worse!!!!
Posted By Anonymous Augie, Boston MA : 5:47 PM ET
To say that the Democrats have nothing in their quiver now that DeLay has resigned under duress is quite shortsighted. That would be like saying Bush couldn't run in 2000 on a promise to restore honor and integrity to the White House. DeLay is the face of the Republican Party, and just like Gore was stuck between a rock and a hard place in his role as Bill Clinton's vice-president, every Republican politician who runs in 2006 and 2008 will find it difficult to separate him/herself that face. Democrats would be wise to remind the American voter on a daily basis just what that face stood for.
Posted By Anonymous Dave Schrader, Stillwater, OK : 5:47 PM ET
He said today he was looking forward to entering the private sector next June.

Of course he is. Now he can go for the really big money, legally, like the other ex-admins. Ah, what a country.
Posted By Anonymous Linda, Boulder, Colorado : 5:49 PM ET
...a rich part of the American political process, one of those colorful figures whom history remembers.You'd probably say the same thing about Joe McCarthy. DeLay, the former insect exterminator turned right-wing hitman (aren't they one and the same?), is worthy of the same place in American history as Haldeman, Erlichman, and their boss. As an insect exterminator, Tommy boy, what goes around comes around.
Posted By Anonymous Jack Smith, San Jose, CA : 5:52 PM ET
I don't necessarily disagree, but strangely enough, we still hear Bill Clinton's name quite often from Republicans. So who knows?

I think it works for Dems if they say something to the effect that this "voluntary" resignation is the first step in the changing of regimes in Washington. Delay, Cunningham...they are wearing the conductor hats on the Republican train out of DC.
Posted By Anonymous Gooch, Cleveland, OH : 5:55 PM ET
I really take issue with you trivializing the DeLay mess by giving him a send off as a "colorful figure". It's shameful that the press has turned the business of running the United States into a half baked reality show. Corruption on either side of the aisle is serious business for which all American should be concerned. It's about time journalist treated the issue as such and apothetic American got involved. Sending DeLay out the door as cartoon figure is disrectful to the American public which deserves facts not a cute turn of phase,
Posted By Anonymous Marcus King, Los Angeles CA : 5:56 PM ET
Tom Delay is only the symptom of the rampant corruption of this congress and this administration who portray themselves as "Christians" and "Patriots". If this is the type of Christianity and patriotism the American people want. We deserve to be the puritanical, bankrupt, uneducated, culturally intolerant, second rate country we are becoming.
Posted By Anonymous Tom, Akron OH : 6:02 PM ET
Good riddance! Now, if we could only do something about the rest of the Republicans...well, and Democrats too. I'm sorry folks, but our country needs a viable third party. The Independent party serves its purpose as a catch-all for those who are fed up with Democrats and Republicans, but it lacks any real organization. Issues are usually not black and white. We need one more viable party. One that isn't polluted by corporate money. One that actually listens to the people (not one that "pays no attention to the opinion polls"). Basically, a party that puts our citizen's interests ahead of "special interests". Maybe I am going off on a rant and am being overly idealistic, but really, when will thise corporate ownership of America end if both parties continue to open their pockets to "corporate donors"? At this rate, it will not. Anyone want to join my party? Haha.
Posted By Anonymous Justin, Johnstown, PA : 6:03 PM ET
John Dillinger was also one of those "colorful figures," but the bottom line is he was a criminal nonetheless. Do we Americans want to venerate alleged criminal behavior in the nation's most august bodies? Delay's departure opens the door for honesty. He won't be missed.
Posted By Anonymous Enrique, Santa Fe, NM : 6:07 PM ET
People like Tom Delay has caused pain and hardship to many in this country. As far as i'm concerned he's already forgotton.
Posted By Anonymous Dave Winfield Quincy,IL : 6:08 PM ET
I really appreciate K's comment, and the manner in which he made it. I'm a democrat, but bashing DeLay is not a focal point for me, even with my pent-up anger. I'm determined to support, and vote for, candidates who prove that their focus is on representing their constituency and not on being elected. For too many politicians, all responsibility ends after election, except for rhetoric and party loyalty.
Posted By Anonymous jgriffin, Fort Pierce, FL : 6:12 PM ET
Tom Delay almost single handedly contributed to the culture of partianship that keeps Washington from substantial answers to problems facing this country. It is better that he is gone. This culture still persists and will until the ideologically bound Republicans that are now in power are completely thrown out. They are already totally discredited.
Posted By Anonymous John Thompson, Conway, AR : 6:28 PM ET
Delay is not gone. And his stepping down from his position and the Fall election doesn't detract from his being the template for Republican corruption. It would be very appropriate for a candidate to highlight any and all associations between an opponent and Delay (or Cunningham or Ney or Burns or...).

Democrats have plenty to run on anyway--positive things, not just pointing out the negatives of their opponents. Whether they'll do it that way is another question.
Posted By Anonymous Alex, Plymouth, MN : 6:29 PM ET
To call Tom DeLay a colorful figure is not far from the truth. He can be colored green for all his greed, yellow for his cowardly stance in denying his mistakes and lying, red for being a poor leader and helping to cripple this great country, blue for making most of us sad as to the state of affairs we are in, and black for being a cancerous spot on the political machine that is ailing and failing daily.

Colorful? Yes, but not in the manner we would like to see. I say good riddance to that type of leadership, if it can be called leadership.
Posted By Anonymous Tom, Melbourne, FL : 6:30 PM ET
I'm not sure I understand the following comment from Mr. Roberts-
"For some people, that's a good thing. But DeLay is one of those characters, who, love him or hate him, is a rich part of the American political process, one of those colorful figures whom history remembers."
A "rich part of the American process"? What is so rich about an individual who uses his "power" to disenfranchise the poor through re-districting for his own political gain. Who's own gain is a result of rubbing against people who are being indicted or sent to jail for cheating the government. If you rub against these types enough then something is going to stick like dirt. We do not not need this kind of political richness for history's to remember.
Posted By Anonymous Michael, Walnut Creek, CA : 6:30 PM ET
Tom Delay is an ongoing problem for Republicans, not Democrats. He is the face of the scandal driven republican party.

The down side for republicans is they are exposed as cheaters and liars. Tell me how that is bad for Democrats?
Posted By Anonymous John, San Francisco : 6:37 PM ET
Why all the joy, or sorrow. This is Republican America. He'll more than likley become a resident of "Lobby Ave.". He certainly knows both sides of the street.
Posted By Anonymous A.J. Los Angeles. Ca. : 6:37 PM ET
A colorful figure? Please. How is it that you can play off the utter disgrace of an utterly disgraceful politician who has wronged our country in very significant ways (especially in terms of congressional politics and policies) as a "loss" for Democrats? His departure should be spotlighted for what it is: a clarion call to the electorate that we'd been duped, and the dupes were granted a "colorful" ride in the media for way too long.
Posted By Anonymous Dave Grady, San Antonio, TX : 6:42 PM ET
I fully agree with Jason from Johnstown. I gave up on the Democrats when Kerry allowed himself to be skewered by the "Swift Boat Veterans". I really wanted him to ask Bush point blank "What did YOU do during the war, Mr. President?"
Ever since the last election, I just gave up. I became a registered independent, but as Jason says, there really is no viable 3rd party candidate. Maybe we should draft General Clark - a sensible and courageous man, who's enough of an outsider to really clean house in Washington, and an actual soldier (though not a prequesite for C-in-C, in today's world it's become more and more important). Anybody interested in a "Draft Clark" movement?
Posted By Anonymous Phyllis, Las Vegas NV : 6:42 PM ET
Your blog responders have said it well. Using the term "colorful figure" for Tom DeLay is the equivalent of calling Joe McCarthy "interesting." Both men were/are narrow-minded ideologues who abused their power and resorted to illegal tactics in an effort to achieve their goals -- and in DeLay's case enrich himself. To borrow a phrase from Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks, I am embarassed that a self-righteous crook like DeLay represented my city and state in the US Congress for more than 20 years. It would be delicious irony if Democrat Nick Lampson, a former Congressman from an adjacent district who DeLay and his cronies gerrymandered out of office in 2004, were to take DeLay's seat this November.
Posted By Anonymous Don S, Houston, TX : 6:44 PM ET
6 years later, republicans are still throwing Clinton's name around. I think the democrats can and should still point to DeLay and Cunningham as the face of the corrupt republican party in the coming months leading up to the mid-term elections. the democrats would be foolish not to use that 'arrow' just because there is or isn't an ongoing investigation. And while we are at it, don't forget the names Scanlon, Rudy, and Libby.
Posted By Anonymous David Guthrie, Redwood City, CA : 6:46 PM ET
I do not believe DeLay left of his own free will, I believe the GOP gave him the boot! I say good riddence to bad rubbish! One down, many many more to go! It amazes me to watch the Republicans at this point in time, they are like rats leaving a sinking ship. Wish the elections were being held tomorrow so the corruption in the GOP would not be forgotten. We, as Americans, unfortunately have a short memory span. Let's hope we can replace most of these politicans in the next election...from the President on down. These politicans must learn that they are PUBLIC SERVANTS and are in office to serve the will of the people, not their own interests.
Posted By Anonymous Moe, Liverpool NY : 6:51 PM ET
You're right, this is a terrible blow to Democrats. Without Republican crooks to attack, what can they do? Spell out their core beliefs in plain language to voters? Nah, it'll never happen.
Posted By Anonymous Steve S. Washington : 6:52 PM ET
Hey, Tom: Don't let the door hit you in the butt on the way out, as my mother used to say, more or less.
Posted By Anonymous Cliff Weimer, Sacramento, CA : 6:56 PM ET
"Rich part of the American process????" He's a crook and his K Street Project is going a long way to ruining America. Wow.
Posted By Anonymous Michael, New York, NY : 6:58 PM ET
There's going to be a scramble now among Republicans up for re-election to distance themselves from DeLay. That's going to be hard for very many of them to do, considering the sheer number of U.S. and Texas legislators that owe their power to him. It wouldn't surprise me if Tom DeLay becomes the new guilty-by-association name for those wishing to discredit their Republican opponents.

The evil side of me is sort of looking forward to that.
Posted By Anonymous Rafael Mittlefehldt, Austin, TX : 7:06 PM ET
Mr. Roberts, the problem is less with Tom DeLay than with the American media which has lost its spine. Helen Thomas and a mere handful of others in her - and your - profession are willing to ask the tough questions and report the truth. The rest of you are so fearful of losing favor with the adminstration that you've ALL become Fox News...which isn't news at all.
Posted By Anonymous Ted Nolan, Buffalo, NY : 7:07 PM ET
It's very clear what Tom DeLay will be remembered for. He will be remembered as one of the numerous corrupt, self-righteous and hypocritical Republicans voted into power in an attempt by the Religious Right to distort the Constitution in order to indoctrinate despotic "Christian" values into our secular society.
Posted By Anonymous Karen M. Spence, Mill Valley, CA : 7:08 PM ET
Actually, the reason Delay left is obvious, once you look at a couple of other facts.

First of all, Delay's chance of winning aren't exactly great. He's so corrupt there is no way you can't attack him on it.

So, Delay decides that, rather then suffer the slings and arrows, he's going to leave office. But, things aren't that straightforward: his name is on the ballot. If he just leaves office, can another Republican run in his place? So, Delay leaves office. And by Time Magazine, he's changing his residence to Alexandria, VA. That will let state Repubs put another name on the ballot.

Aren't election laws fun?

I predict what will happen is that Delay will vanish for at least few years, probably somewhere into the lobbyist cloud. Depending on how things play out, he may just end up living it up off a nice 6-7 figure salary providing 'access'. If he's feeling daring, he might reappear in a decade, and run as a born-again.
Posted By Anonymous Paul, from South Jersey : 7:15 PM ET
really? Will people forget in 6 months that these people are crooks and reprobates? So what Delay is gone...the stench will linger. Besides, they can't help themselves.. there will be PLENTY more to slap them with. They are lousy with it all and Delay is just the tip of this appalling iceberg, with the majority of corruption yet to surface. But surface, it will. The truth will out. And in the end, good always triumphs over evil. Americans will at some point finally get it. let's just hope it happens before November.
Posted By Anonymous T.A.Finklang, Kittredge, Colorado : 7:17 PM ET
I think it is somewhat ridiculous to think that just because Tom DeLay resigns his seat that there is no longer a story. I don't believe that Abramoff, Rudy and DeLay are the only principals and subordinates involved in money laundering scandals and unethical behavior. You are kidding yourself to think that there is no longer ammunition for which Democrats can sieze as an election year distraction. Although I wish issues will prevail in all of our elections, personal destruction is what will continue to be of importance. I am not a fan of Tom DeLay in the least. However, I don't think our American political system wins when our leaders falter. DeLay's website cites that Democrats, if they win a majority in the House and Senate, will move to impeach Bush. I do not support Bush in almost any initiative he has layed out and continue to think he is a poor leader; however, I don't think that our country needs to undergo yet another impeachment process - it is too debilitating and is yet another "distraction" from the real issues that affect our nation. God bless America!
Posted By Anonymous John Medrano, Austin, Texas : 7:23 PM ET
As a life long republican I am now ashamed to admit that I was one. Delay, Nye, Haster, Frist, Bush etc. are the biggest bunch of crooks to ever hold office. I can't wait to vote democratic and am encouraging everyone I know to do the same. Maybe then we can restore the Constitution and bring the 911 investigation to the forefront.
Posted By Anonymous Pooche, Phila Pa : 7:25 PM ET
I disagree. I think the Democrats can continue to sue the 'Hammer' as the bad example. Just because he chose to get out of the race he probably would have lost anyway doesn't make him any less of an example. But the point is being missed. He committed a crime. The Democrats didn't charge him. Unfortunately the media is avoiding the facts.
Posted By Anonymous Michael, Okemos, MI : 7:26 PM ET
I am so tired. Delay is now a "colorful figure"? He is a scum bag of an elected offical. He has caused so much pain, and now will probably just move over to the other side of the "lobby", in a more comfortable, not in the line of fire chair, and rake in the money.

Why is it that we can't seem to find any real leaders for our country. What is wrong with us, as a nation? Are there no self-less talented people to help us, or is that two strikes against any candidate that might consider running?

The Democrats offer no one either. We need a third party. Someone suggested Wesley Clark. Sign me up.
Posted By Anonymous Michael, Los Angeles, CA : 7:31 PM ET
I understand "colorful figures" provide "good ink" for the press, but please, let's call Tom DeLay what he is. A mean spirited, power hungry, hypocritical, religious baiting, criminal politician. Good riddance.
Posted By Anonymous Michele, San Francisco, CA : 7:36 PM ET
Because he's stepping down, does that mean that the Republican party is no longer tarnished? I think not! This Republican administration is flooded with greed and corruption on a scale the Democrats can only marvel at. The good-ol boy network of corporatism has to be voted out this year. Democrats need to clean up in the election. Hearings on Iraq, Wiretapping, Katrina and the Downing street memo's should follow. Impeachment shortly thereafter!
Posted By Anonymous Sean Turrey, Laguna Beach, CA : 7:38 PM ET
Wow! John Roberts, are you playing DeLay's (DeVil's) advocate with that posting? I sure hope so because this is not a conservative blog and you have raised the ire of many. DeLay is typical of a bully. When in trouble he retreats. He smelled trouble and now he and the Republicans have pulled out the big spin machine. They hate to lose so its time for their own brand of logic.
Posted By Anonymous Paige B., Austin, TX : 7:43 PM ET
Up here in the Northeast, we had been waiting for at least 6 years for the Republican Party to implode - with Tom Delay at the top of the list... along with Gale Norton (Dept. of Interior, Andrew Card, Mike Brown (FEMA - never qualified for job), Christine Todd Whitman (EPA), Spencer Abraham, John Ashcroft, Paul O'Neil, etc.

WHAT'S SO SCARY IS THAT IF IT WAS NOT FOR THE SCANDAL DRAGGING DELAY DOWN, TEXAS VOTERS WOULD HAVE SENT HIM BACK TO CONGRESS....

Another point - at least with the Democrats, they have a tendency to throw money at national problems... The Republicans throw money at themselves to fix the same problems (tax breaks, trickle down economics, faith based initiatives, etc.)

Pick your poison... But for me, at least I know there is one Party that trying to solve the problems...
Posted By Anonymous Mike W. Boston, MA : 7:44 PM ET
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