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April 13, 2005

In Defense of Tom DeLay

I've thusfar stayed out of this for several reasons.

First, I haven't followed it closely.

Second, the reason I haven't followed it closely is that I suspect, though I don't know enough to be sure, that the charges levelled against DeLay are largely manufactured or trumped-up.

Third, while the NYT (of course!) and the WSJ are surprised to find a politician flirting with ethical lines, I myself am not. As the man said, I'm a bit shocked -- shocked! -- to find gambling going on at Rick's. This is not to say I approve of sleaze; I don't. But some amount of non-criminal, non-illegal sleaziness is to be expected. Writing against political sleaze is like writing against war, which, as Kurt Vonnegut wrote, is itself like writing against glaciers. Sort of futile, he meant. It might make you feel good, but, at the end of the day, those glaciers aren't going away just because you morally disapprove of them.

Fourth, I don't really trust my motives on this. For whatever reason, while I appreciate DeLay's willingness to fight where many conservatives would choose to surrender, I don't like the guy. It's just an in-the-gut dislike. And I joined in the pack of wolves baying for Trent Lott's head based partly on the same dislike. Yes, what he said was insensitive, I suppose; and worse yet, it was just plain stupid. As the French say, it was worse than a crime, it was a mistake. Still, a big reason I joined in the anti-Lott mob was because I just didn't want the guy in charge anymore, for cynical (and personality-driven) reason.

Brit Hume -- a guy I have to say I trust an awful lot -- and Bill Kristol -- whom I also trust, although not quite as implicitly as Hume -- expressed their opinion on this week's FoxNews Sunday that much of this was old news (the stuff about his family on the payroll is a two-year old story, despite the NYT's decision to pretend it was a breaking exclusive) and is not illegal and is furthermore not even an uncommon practice among politicians. The rest of it, they thought, constituted smoke without, as of yet, any actual fire.

I suppose I should really examine the issues more thoroughly and figure out my own opinion, rather than rely on Brit Hume, but Brit Hume is my Walter Cronkite. When he says the Tom DeLay war is unwinnable, that's probably when I join the hippies in the street demanding we abandon the fight and make peace with Hanoi the mainstream media.

In the meantime, Tony Blankley provides some perspective on the contretemps, and urges Republicans to have a little backbone. Maybe, he suggests, we should resist the urge to call for someone's head until an actual crime has been suggested, let alone proven.

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posted by Ace at 12:25 PM

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