Friday, April 22, 2005

Double Standards: Rep Tom DeLay

Unless you have been completely asleep these last few weeks, there are a number of lame accusations leveled against the Majority Whip, Tom ‘The Hammer’ DeLay. I call these accusations lame because, well, they are. As I said last week, I am not about to excuse ethical violations, and that remains my position (I challenge anyone to call me on that).

Every ethics charge leveled at Rep. DeLay can be (at least) equally leveled on damn near every other House member (in both parties). It would stand to reason that a party ought to clean its own house and set an example of ethical behavior before pointing fingers. However, the Democrats won’t because in their party, these so-called lapses are OK.

Same thing is true, of course, of the Republicans, because if they felt there was something ethically wrong with the behavior of a Democratic congressman, they’d make sure their party was clean before they cast a stone. The fact remains, in spite of my beliefs and yours, what passes as ethical in the House probably might not pass the smell test to you and me; regardless of which side is in power.

That being said, one of the charges against Rep. DeLay involves him paying his family to run his campaign and PAC. That’s it??? HE PAID HIS FAMILY??? WOW!

Do you mean he used government money to bankroll his wife and daughter??

Um… No; he used PAC and campaign monies to pay them; all legitimate, all well documented, and legal.

Another charge is that he gerrymandered the Texas districts to ensure the continued majority. EGADS!

Did he invent gerrymandering? No. Did he perfect it? No more than any other pol in the majority in any given state. Again, documented, legitimate, legal. This does not mean I condone gerrymandering: the practice has grown too precise in the golden age of computerized demographics. Somehow, I can't imagine the Founding Fathers envisioned a system that can pinpoint voters down to individual units in an apartment complex. Nevertheless, it is still legal.

I must pause now and send a shout out to Professor Jerry Mander. A nom de plume of a skilled debater, pundit, and author, he brought enlightenment and humor to many an online debate in the 1990s. His rapier-like wit stung many who only thought they knew what they were talking about (this Blog, included). I’ve lost track of the good man, and wherever he is now, I wish him well.
Another charge is that Rep. DeLay neutered the Ethics committee! He changed the rules in his favor. GASP!! WHAT DID HE DO? Well, the Panel (not simply ‘he’) voted in favor of changing the rules to avoid gridlock. Before the rules change, if the panel were deciding on whether to convene an investigation and were deadlocked (House rules mandate the panel be evenly split between parties, 5-5), the investigation would commence automatically.

Readers, if you sit before a Grand Jury and the verdict to indict you is deadlocked, your case gets kicked. This change merely eliminates partisan gridlock (whod a thunk it??). And if you are going to suggest that one party can be universally unethical, you must accept the corollary as well; I simply do not believe either party is capable of being wholly, universally unethical.

Lastly, Rep. DeLay is preventing the Ethics Panel an opportunity to convene, because he’s scared of the outcome. If anyone has any reason to fear the Ethics Committee, it is the Democrats. Washington Rep. Jim ‘Baghdad Jim’ McDermott was found guilty of distributing an illegally obtained that tape of then Speaker Newt Gingrich’s phone call. This conviction automatically triggers a ethics probe in the House. The only holdouts for the current House Ethics committee are the Democrats, who won’t permit the panel to meet.

Again: Rep. DeLay is the target of the Democrats because he is effective.

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