The End of Tom Delay?

Tom Delay was right up front in the battle over Terri Schiavo, and having lost that battle he is now out to punish those impudent judges who dared not to agree with his position. "The time will come for the men responsible for this to answer for their behavior," he said. Delay has long been at the forefront of the right's war on the judiciary, as the Dallas Morning News points out:

In 1996, Mr. DeLay argued for using impeachment to police and steer the federal bench. The next year, he said "judges need to be intimidated" to ensure that they uphold the Constitution. In mid-2003, he created the House Working Group on Judicial Accountability, a GOP task force that would scour the work of federal judges and "take no prisoners."

The House has impeached a dozen judges, most recently in 1989. The Senate removed seven and another resigned. But not since the republic's early days have political disagreements been used as justification.

The Constitution allows for impeachment for treason, bribery or other "high crimes and misdemeanors." Lifetime tenure is guaranteed "during good behaviour." Mr. DeLay has argued that defying Congress would breach this rule, though few legal scholars or lawmakers embrace that view.

Two weeks ago, Mr. DeLay and other conservatives broke legislative speed records to enact a law they hoped would force the courts to order Ms. Schiavo's feeding tube reinserted.

But court after court refused. When the end came, Mr. DeLay decried the "arrogant, out-of-control, unaccountable judiciary that thumbed their nose at Congress and the president."

Delay's tactics are getting more and more desperate as a result of innumerable ethical breaches. The house ethics committee, controlled by his fellow Republicans, admonished him three times last year alone. Three of his aides have been indicted for violating campaign laws in Texas, and every day it seems brings a new round of questions of his fundraising practices and ethical difficulties. It's gotten so bad that even the conservative Wall Street Journal has said that he needs to go. The result of all of this is that he has seen his popularity in his own district decline steeply. According to new polling:

Nearly 40 percent of the 501 voters questioned Wednesday through Friday said their opinion of the powerful Sugar Land Republican is less favorable than last year, compared with 11 percent who said their view of him has improved.

Half of the respondents gave DeLay a somewhat or very favorable rating.

Yet 45 percent said they would vote for someone other than DeLay if a congressional election in the 22nd District were at hand; 38 percent said they would stick with him.

"There seems to be no question that there has been an erosion in support for the congressman," said John Zogby, whose polling company, Zogby International, performed the survey. "He is posting numbers that one would have to consider in the dangerous territory for an incumbent. And he isn't just an incumbent, he is a longtime incumbent."

Best of all, it appears that his role in the Terri Schiavo case may have been the last straw. His push for Federal intervention in the case was wildly unpopular even in Delay's conservative congressional district:

On the Schiavo issue, DeLay consistently has stated that his constituents backed his decision to lead Congress into the dispute over whether to continue nourishment to the severely brain-damaged Florida woman.

"Everywhere I went (in the district) people were ... very supportive of the efforts to try and save her," DeLay said Wednesday at Sugar Land Regional Airport.

But nearly 69 percent of people in the poll, including substantial majorities of Democrats and Republicans, said they opposed the government's intervention in the longstanding family battle.

Respondents in the Chronicle survey also were critical of DeLay's individual role. Nearly 58 percent disapproved of his decision to get Congress involved...

DeLay argued that his morals guided him in the case of Schiavo, who died Thursday. But nearly half of those polled said he intervened in the case for political gain.

Look for Delay to become increasingly frantic over the next year and a half, which I predict will lead to even crazier public stands and more breathless demagoguery aimed at the far right, his natural constituency. One can only hope this vile little man will be the one who bears the brunt of any backlash coming from the Schiavo case.


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A vile little man indeed. I am concerned though that as he as generated such enormous revenue streams for the GOP leadership, from their corporate constituencies, he has the "goods" on many many of them. Thus they will be unwilling to push him, as president after president never took on Hoover. We will have DeLay around for a while.

What a piece of work that guy is. When in trouble, pander to your base.

A possible candidate for the Robert O'Brien Idiot of the Month Award (which btw wasn't awarded last month)?

I just watched Grover Norquist on CSPAN reiterate the proposition that activist judges are "making law" with regard to tort reform, justifications for large settlements, property taxation, and property rights. "I think the American people really want a justice system that is fair." Ugh???

You've just gotta love the implications of this little tidbit:

The Constitution allows for impeachment for treason, bribery or other "high crimes and misdemeanors." Lifetime tenure is guaranteed "during good behaviour." Mr. DeLay has argued that defying Congress would breach this rule, though few legal scholars or lawmakers embrace that view.

Gee, remember that op-ed piece from a few days ago where Alan Keyes got up and shook hands with the rotting corpse of Andrew Jackson concerning that pesky little issue of bothering to enforce the Supreme Court's rulings? It seems like DeLay must also be having late-night chats with Old Hickory on the subject.

By Chris Krolczyk (not verified) on 05 Apr 2005 #permalink