Thursday, April 14, 2005

The Economist: Time For DeLay to Go

The conservative British newsmagazine, The Economist, has joined with several other conservatives in realizing that Tom DeLay has become a liability to their cause in an article entitled Time for him to go:
The longer you study the DeLay affair, the more clearly it has passed the point where conservatives have more to lose than gain by rallying around him. If they continue to support Mr DeLay, they risk tarring the entire movement with his ethical problems. If they replace him with a clean new face (say, Roy Blunt, the majority whip), they save themselves months of distraction and begin to rein in their increasingly dangerous affair with K Street, the lobbyists' home in the capital. . . .

Mr DeLay embodies an abuse of power that is becoming a huge problem for the Right. Look back over the former pest-controller's career in the capital and two intertwined themes emerge: his willingness to push any rule to its limits (he even, temporarily, got his party to rewrite its rules forbidding people indicted for serious crimes to hold leadership posts), and his hand-in-glove relationship with lobbyists.
The Economist continued to comment on the relationship between DeLay and lobbyists:
The Hammer has not just pummelled business wallets harder than previous majority leaders. He has persuaded their owners to ditch Democratic lobbyists and replace them with Republican ones. He has put Republicanism at the heart of K Street—and K Street at the heart of Republicanism. . . .

Many Republicans see no harm in America's more businesslike party cosying up to business. But DeLay Inc should raise questions for all sorts of people on the right. For social conservatives committed to moral government: why are they now in bed with the likes of Mr Abramoff? For small-government types: why are they hand-in-glove with the pork-procurers who have pushed up federal spending? For free-market Reaganauts: why have the Gipper's heirs given so much power to people bent on twisting government to favour special interests?

For the American right, K-Street conservatism is the political version of steroids: it confers short-term strength at the expense of long-term health problems. The Republicans took over Congress in 1994 in part because they skilfully used attacks on individual politicians to suggest that the Democrats were soft on corruption. The Republicans are vulnerable to exactly this treatment. From that perspective, getting rid of Mr DeLay is only a first step. But it is a good place to start.


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