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March 31, 2005

Shooting the Devil in the Back

Jesse Lee thinks the sole force able to take out DeLay is Rove, and he can only do that by converting the GOP caucus. True, but I don't think he's got the power. The house leadership is surprisingly disconnected from the White House -- there's been no patron relationship there. Unlike Frist, Hastert and DeLay built this goddamn majority, and I'd be stunned if they let the transient occupants of the White House tell them how to run it. So I think Rove's meddling might prove counterproductive.

But what about internal fears from the conference? That's trickier. If DeLay is dragging down the poll numbers and become a problem for the Republicans, would he allow Hastert and Blunt to put him out of his misery? My answer, again, is nope. You have to remember that DeLay was never a Gingrichite, he's never been a movement guy concerned with creating an enduring GOP majority in order to change the world. DeLay's ruthlessness, and thus his success, actually comes from his alternative motivation -- the man wants power, simple as that. And he doesn't just want it for his friends or party or patrons, he wants it for himself. So you're about to watch DeLay cash in all the chits, call in all the debts. All those lawmakers he installed in power? Watch them circle the wagons. All those lobbyists he invited into the Capitol? Watch them contribute to the fund. And DeLay himself? He's readying for war, already constructing a him-against-the-world narrative. His very belligerence closes off his escape routs, once he's entered the fight and vowed to win it, losing becomes unacceptable, a knife in his pride. He won't allow it -- it's personal.

And that, for Democrats, is probably the best outcome. DeLay flailing wildly, desperately trying to survive as Republicans distance themselves, caucus dissension hits the papers, and the poll numbers nosedive. DeLay, for his part, has never been good in front of the cameras. He's not a skilled media personality, more apt to reach heights of sublime absurdity (i.e, his defense of Quayle, which argued that minorities snatched up all the spots in Vietnam, leaving no room for white boys like Dan and Tom) and blistering rage than to turn in compelling and vulnerable performances. But if he wants to survive, he'll have to step into the limelight, which might kill him on its own. And the more damage DeLay takes, the more his omnipresent PAC contributions and fundraisers will hurt the candidates they were meant to benefit. In the end, he's got too much pride to go quietly and he's too connected to go on his own. If Tom's going to die, he won't go clean. He'll writhe and flail, and he'll take many a friend and foe down with him.

We can only hope.

March 31, 2005 in Republicans | Permalink

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» No, no, NO! Bad liberal! No biscuit! from Blue Mass. Group
Well, Sam Rosenfeld at TAPPED gets it completely backward:The much-cited Wall Street Journal editorial attacking DeLay had me panicked that Democrats and their allies might actually succeed in securing the Hammer’s imminent fall, which would prove ut... [Read More]

Tracked on Mar 31, 2005 8:54:35 PM

Comments

Nice post, although I think you over-simplify my argument a little bit. What I actually said was...

Ultimately, only the GOP Conference, including Hastert himself, can force him out. But just as nobody wants to be the last one off the sinking ship, tainted as a supreme DeLay loyalist, coming out against him while he is still in power is perhaps even more risky - especially so long as he may not step down or he may just be replaced by one of his pals in the current GOP Leadership (puppet regime?). And so in all likelihood, the only ways for DeLay to go down will be for Rove and/ or others to convert Hastert himself, or for that insurgent GOP contingency to risk it all and take him on.

So Rove doesn't have any power per se, he would have to convince Hastert. And you're right that even Hastert would be playing with fire, but he's the only one who could possibly convince the GOP conference to vote him out of the position. That's especially true b/c the move by the Conference would have to be en masse, no trickle of such dissent would be allowed b/c the first people to stick their necks out would be punished as examples. Unless, as I said, there was a rebel GOP caucus that took the entire Leadership on and won the public relations battle - a tall order.

That said, I think your conclusion is certainly correct that DeLay is getting it together for the long haul. It could indeed get very bloody.

Posted by: jesselee | Mar 31, 2005 4:09:34 PM

I soooo want to see this man gone from politics.

Other republicans forced from the House leadership left when their actions brought the House and the Republicans under disrepute. Delay won't go that way, since he has no sense of shame and he rules by fear - that will make it very hard for members to speak against him, even amongst themselves.

I fear Delay can't be brought down until he is indicted for something at the least. The Texas prosecutor is methodically working in that direction, but we won't see results of that in 2005.

Maybe Delay can escape overthrow entirely if we get into the 2006 election cycle before he is indicted, since he will pull all the fund-raising levers to support his friends and destroy his enemies.

This isn't going to be as easy as the Gingrich overthrow, and we shouldn't count on winning. We can keep on turning up the heat on the other Republican House members for association and accepting funds from Delay, and perhaps that is the most likely outcome: weakened Repub. candidates that tow Delay's party line.

Posted by: JimPortlandOR | Mar 31, 2005 4:10:41 PM

You people are just extreme extremists who hate our freedoms.

Posted by: praktike | Mar 31, 2005 4:37:36 PM

Agree with that Ezra.

Also agree with Prak, though I think he's is sort of joking.

Posted by: Armando | Mar 31, 2005 4:38:43 PM

Having watched DeLay for a long time now, I think you are absolutely correct on this, Ezra.

What many of those who see DeLay don't realize is how deep his power flows. He's been the bagman for a long time now. He's been punishing disloyalty and purging insufficiently radical GOP members for over a decade. Most of the House GOP--including Dennis Hastert--owe their positions to DeLay. With his strong ties to Grover Norquist and the Christian right-wing, he has power over a lot of money and many zealots for the cause. In many cases, he determines whether GOP candidates get enthusiastic support or a primary challenge.

All of which is a fantastic political opportunity for the Democrats. The GOP is the party of Tom DeLay--literally--and we should say so often and loudly.

Posted by: Kenneth Fair | Mar 31, 2005 8:15:50 PM

No way the SCLM actually airs the insane parts of DeLay defending himself.

Posted by: Kimmitt | Mar 31, 2005 9:43:00 PM

When you strike at a king, you must kill him.

Simple as that. No way does DeLay go until and unless it becomes a foregone conclusion by the overwhelming weight of charges against him. Given all that's been written, very accurately, here and elsewhere about DeLay's sole motivation being personal power, no one who's not already an apostate (and thus inconsequential in inner House GOP circles) will take the risk of turning on DeLay until that weight is indeed overwhelming and irrefutable.

OTOH, DeLay has the defects of his strengths, and like a megalomaniacal pirate, has burned the congressional GOP's lifeboats. They're chained to him by the same chains he forged in their rise to the majority, (how many more metaphors can I mix here, hmmmm?), and they indeed (per Ezra) have no easy escape route.

Posted by: Steady Eddie | Mar 31, 2005 10:14:29 PM

Hmm, unlike JimP, I soooo DON'T want to see this guy gone from politics ... YET.

As others have observed, he's Gingrich-ite. I think he's actually UGLIER than Gingrich, politically speaking.

And he's really a poster-boy for hubris. The Greek dramatists would have no trouble with HIM.

I want sturm und drang. I want frothing at microphones. I want sanctimonious Democrats publicly mourning the loss of DIGNITY in the PEOPLE'S HOUSE. I want ... yes, I'll say it ... I want JOE LIEBERMAN to pontificate lugubriously about the shame this corrupt individual has brought upon a once-proud Congress.

I want to see him twist in the wind, as his legs kick, and he slowly, slowly, strangles to death.

Posted by: bleh | Mar 31, 2005 10:15:29 PM

Adding one more thought to the above, Rove is not a significant player in this congressional drama unless he can devise some way to ease DeLay out with minimal damage to other congressional Republicans -- from Democrats or DeLay's retaliation.

Congressional Republicans would be splitting from the WH agenda somewhat anyway in the normal course of second presidential terms, but the WH has played into the most destructive aspects of this dynamic with their anti-Social Security crusade, which comes from think tank ideologues who contribute essentially nothing to Republican campaign coffers. Gutting Social Security ordinarily would be exactly nowhere on the Business Roundtable's agenda, and congressional Republicans are only too aware of that.

Posted by: Steady Eddie | Mar 31, 2005 10:22:31 PM

Dems shouldn't try to push Delay off the stage yet. I agree with kenneth and bleh. Delay should be portrayed as the conscience of the Repug party. The more the public sees of this guy, the more appalled they are.
Tying other repugs to him will tar them with the same brush. Too bad...if they don't denounce him - they must be like him.
Remember Dubya said "if you're not with us, you're against us". There is no time for nuance.

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Posted by: peter.w | Sep 15, 2007 2:46:36 AM

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