Veritas odit moras

by John Holbo on April 4, 2006

Anyone want to discuss the Hammer’s announcement of withdrawal from the race [Time, NY Times)? There’s a thread developing at Redstate. Realamerican writes:

Look, I’ll be honest. I don’t care if DeLay broke a few laws. He was good for our side, and I’d rather have a corrupt Republican than an honest Democrat (not that there is such a thing).

But by dropping out, he might as well put on a T-shirt saying, “Yes, I AM guilty!” This will paint the entire Republican Party in a bad light, and put our majority in real jeopardy. The honorable thing for him to do would have been to resign before the primary. By waiting until now, he makes it look as though Earle or someone has something really damaging on him. Even if he’s innocent, he looks incredibly guilty.

This is bad. Just really, really bad. Truthfully, I think we just lost the House.

Interesting use of the word ‘honorable’. To be fair, realamerican is getting a bit of pushback from the others in the thread. Not as much as one would hope for, however.

I think Powerline nails it about right:

It’s too bad, I think. DeLay was an effective leader, albeit too liberal in recent years. It’s possible, of course, that he did something wrong along the way. But there is no evidence of that in the public domain; as I’ve often said, the politically-inspired prosection of DeLay by Travis County’s discredited DA, Ronnie Earle, is a bad joke. As far as we can tell at the moment, DeLay appears to be yet another victim of the Democrats’ politics of personal destruction–the only politics they know.

As to my post title. I’ve used that joke before, but it seems extra super appropriate today.

And just to be clear: realamerican and hindrocket are mostly here to provide black humor. You don’t need to talk about them unless you want. You might consider discussing levels of denial of Republican corruption problems, however.



bad Jim 04.04.06 at 2:52 am

As someone who favors drug rehab and needle exchange programs and amelioration in general, I’m not sure I ought to object to the application of the balm of denial to the right’s self-inflicted wounds.

There is progress visible: they now admit that DeLay has been indicted, that Abramoff has plead guilty, that Dick & Don’s excellent adventure in Iraq has not gone as smoothly as planned.

Yet they never remark the dark stain of corruption which has been dripping at least since Enron imploded, and it still seems that nothing can shake their faith that anything done in the name of free enterprise could possibly be wrong.


ogmb 04.04.06 at 3:35 am

albeit too liberal in recent years

Classic. It’s the signal that the wolves are trying to expel him from the pack.


Barry Freed 04.04.06 at 4:18 am

… and IÂ’d rather have a corrupt Republican than an honest Democrat (not that there is such a thing).

What? Joe Lieberman is not even chopped liver? I mean, where’s the love? Oh, right…


abb1 04.04.06 at 6:15 am

I’m curious if they would rather have a corrupt Republican than a honest Republican, someone like, say, Ron Paul or somethin’?


Ginger Yellow 04.04.06 at 6:48 am

“It’s possible, of course, that he did something wrong along the way. But there is no evidence of that in the public domain”

Apart from the whole three reprimands from a Republican dominated ethics committee which he then shut down thing. Or the fact that almost every single one of his senior staff in recent years has been convicted or indicted on corruption charges. Or the Abramoff-bought golf junket. Other than that, nothing at all.

Powerline really do take hackdom to new levels. I love the way they’ve resurrected the obscenely projected “politics of personal destruction” theme. Which party outed a covert agent for political gain? Which party trashed their opponent’s war record for political gain? The president representing which party spread rumours that their primary opponent had had a lovechild with, heaven forfend, a black woman? Which party’s gubernatorial candidate spread rumours that his opponent was a lesbian?


Matt 04.04.06 at 7:58 am

Yet another ruthless, ambitious, supposedly ‘brilliant’, overreaching politician– reaches the end of the line. I only note that this is a rather regular occurence. De Lay offers no regrets or excuses whatsoever, which I find refreshing, in a way.


Rob 04.04.06 at 8:11 am

Here we see the modern Republican mind at work. The basic idea is that what is important is how things look rather than how things actually are. They care more that this makes DeLay look guilty than whether he actually is or not. You can see this in all major Republican undertakings. There is the Medicare drug plan where looking like they were doing something was more important than actually achieving a working drug program. And of course Iraq where what is most important is making sure the good news gets reported not what the actual overall condition is.


roger 04.04.06 at 8:20 am

As a citizen of Austin, Texas, which Delay treated much as the Shiite government treats the Sunnis, I was overjoyed that the radio woke me up with news of the Hammer’s resignation. I was also interested in the fact that he has set his sights, like many a pioneer, on the new frontier of lobbying — he’s planning on creeping up to Alexandria, Virginia, where he will perch like a noxious toad and no doubt generate the kind of policy “advice” Newt Gingrich does. Unless there is a god, and he does go to jail for years and years.

It would be nice if, someday, someone thoroughly traced the ins and outs of congressmen and senators as they use their offices to loot the treasury and find feathered nests in the private sphere, since I think such a study would find a tight fit between legislation and post-congressional careers. I imagine that is the single biggest factor in the chance a piece of legislation has to get through congress — how much it will accrue future benefit to the congressman who drives it. The entire Bush era is, in a sense, the open expression of this system of incentives, the malign synergy of big business and big government. And Tom DeLay is its prophet.


jet 04.04.06 at 10:33 am

DeLay couldn’t be more blatantly pro-corruption in how he killed off almost every one of Coburn’s anti-corruption bills. May he find a long unemployment line.


jet 04.04.06 at 10:37 am

Whups, Frist is not DeLay…nevermind.


Uncle Kvetch 04.04.06 at 11:32 am

Oh, the memories. So many precious moments, it’s hard to choose just one. His hack diagnosis of Terri Schiavo–“She talks and she laughs and she expresses happiness and discomfort”–topped even Bill Frist’s (no mean feat). But I think “I am the Federal government” will always be my favorite.


james 04.04.06 at 1:20 pm

Is Ronnie Earle’s reputation actually suspect?


Steve 04.04.06 at 1:55 pm

As with many things, it depends who you ask, James. He’s gone after members of both parties, but he seems to largely have gone after a number of political opponents of both parties. His case against Kay Bailey Hutchinson fell apart, but only after some pre-trial gymnastics on the part of the judge (who ruled his key evidence inadmissable then threw out the case while Earle looked for a friendlier court). I think the best assessment is that Earle is both an honest prosecutor and a politician, and sometimes the two roles are in conflict. The claims that he’s some sort of heckuva-job-Brownie partisan hack don’t strike me as credible.

The DeLay case is more complicated, though. The TRM gang are bald-facedly guilty, unless they can get someone to agree with their hairsplitting. (At one point they attempted to convince a judge that the ban on corporate fundraising didn’t apply to them, as they had only distributed checks and not cash.) Proving a conspiracy case against DeLay will be much tougher, and I think it has as much to do with Earle being furious on DeLay’s repeated and proudly acknowledged violations of the spirit of the law as either smart lawyering or a partisan attack. I get the sense that it just cheeses Earle off to hear DeLay bragging about the amount of money he helped spread around in contravention of Texas law.

If DeLay sees jail time, I think it’s much more likely to be fallout from the criminal activities of some of his aides in Washington rather than as a byproduct of the criminal activities going on in Texas, but that’s just my opinion.


josh 04.04.06 at 3:07 pm

Adding to Ginger Yellow’s litany (#5), there’s also that whole Clinton impeachment thing. Whether one’s a Clinton fan or not, it’s hard to see the GOP campaign as anything other than the ‘politics of personal destruction’.
But then self-awareness does not seem to be one of the gifts with which Hindrocket has been blessed.


Grand Moff Texan 04.04.06 at 6:49 pm

the politically-inspired prosection of DeLay by Travis County’s discredited DA, Ronnie Earle, is a bad joke.

Truer words …


djw 04.04.06 at 6:52 pm

I’m surprised at the lack of outrage from rank and file Republican voters in DeLay’s district. By dropping out now, instead of before the primary, he’s reassigned their right to decide on the nominee to the state party apparatus. Not very (small-d) democratic, but typical DeLay, in that he presumably will still carry weight behind the scenes in the state party’s deliberations.


snuh 04.04.06 at 6:58 pm

here is john “there is no evidence of that in the public domain” hindrocket on the finances of the workers world party:

I once did some research to try to find out who is behind the Workers World Party. I obtained the government forms that it filed. Those forms are not required to identify donors, so, while I could infer that the WWP is kept afloat by donations from a few wealthy donors, I couldn’t tell who they were. The individual named on the documents did not return calls asking for more information.

what a genius this man is.


roger 04.04.06 at 9:13 pm

To my mind, the one thing Ronnie Earle has done that I can’t forgive is not prosecute corrupt politicos. It was the prosecution of a twelve year old girl for capital murder in the shaking death of a 19 month old, Lacresha Murray. See here: Earle’s prosecution of Murray made me, at least, vow never to vote for the bastard. I’m glad to see Delay go down, but there are no heros in Texas politics, only hogs.


jacob 04.05.06 at 9:13 am

When I read the first sentence of this post (about the Hammer withdrawing from the race), I thought, “What, M.C. Hammer has declared he’s no longer black? What is this, some sort of Dave Chapelle skit?” I must say, this thread is much less interesting.


John Holbo 04.05.06 at 11:01 am

You’re right, jacob. I should have written about that instead.


nic 04.05.06 at 1:32 pm

i’m just glad the ‘politics of personal *self* destruction’ won this time. i am a 22nd district democratic voter! believe me we are excited, energized, and eager to make this an historical moment for our district!


Jim Miller 04.05.06 at 3:06 pm

Those concerned about corruption — regardless of which party can be blamed — will find this post interesting.

As for corruption in the United States, there is no doubt that Democrats are caught more often than Republicans. (For a particularly gaudy example, check out the East St. Louis vote fraud stories.) I think this shows that Democrats commit more fraud than Republicans, but will listen to alternative hypotheses.

As for DeLay, I concluded some time ago that he had stepped over some ethical lines, much like many of his Democratic predecessors. Whether he has broken any laws has yet to be determined. It is a fact that Ronnie Earle has a reputation for partisanship, and a certain carelessness about legal niceties. (If I recall correctly, among other things he tried to indict DeLay under a law that had not been passed when the supposed crime occurred.) So I am willing to wait for the trial before I conclude that DeLay crossed legal, as well as ethical, lines.

(By the way, those who are interested in knowing more about DeLay — as opposed to having a target to throw darts at — might want to look up his record on foster care, especially in the District of Columbia. Offhand, I can’t think of a Democratic leader in Congress who has shown the same concern.)


Steve 04.05.06 at 3:31 pm

(If I recall correctly, among other things he tried to indict DeLay under a law that had not been passed when the supposed crime occurred.)

Earle indicted DeLay for conspiracy to commit felony violations of Texas election law — it’s an unsettled question as to whether election law felonies were covered by the conspiracy laws in Texas as of 2002, although it’s pretty clear that the legislative intent was to make it so, since in 2003 they voted to explicitly state this. The point is moot, though, because Earle also indicted DeLay for money laundering. (This is where the “it’s not money laundering unless you take bags of cash” argument was introduced.

Just to clarify the points in case Jim is arguing in good faith, there were laws in Texas dating back to 1905 prohibiting corporate donations to state political races. Tom DeLay’s associates at TRMPAC, in collusion with the Texas Association of Businesses and a group of out of state donors with ties to DeLay (such as Westar Energy, where some executives just got sentenced to prison for ripping off their shareholders) spent a good deal of time in 2002 attempting to circumvent these laws in a number of farcical and probably illegal ways, so that Texas could redistrict out of season and elect more Republicans to Congress. The Texas Observer wrote a good summary of these events.

DeLay’s got some good lawyers, and I really do think that there’s a good chance that he, if not the TRMPAC people, walks on the Texas charges. The question of whether DeLay’s efforts to shake money out of contributors and inject it into local races in blithe disregard of Texas election law rose to the level of criminal conspiracy or simply encouraged a bunch of his business associates to break the law is hardly obviated by his concern for foster children, though. And the accusations that DeLay was using his children’s charity as a slush fund lend a certain something to the idea that he’s a big-hearted guy deep down inside.


vetiver 04.05.06 at 4:16 pm

More on Celebrations for Children and the blurry boundaries between DeLay’s charitable organizations and his political fundraising:

The [CfC] brochure is entitled ‘Donor Packages for the 2004 Republican National Convention,’ leaving no question about the tie between CfC and its convention-related activities. Indeed, the brochure states that CfC’s ‘Marquee event for 2004’ will be ‘events at the Republican National Convention in New York City.’ The ‘net’ proceeds, according to the brochure, ‘will be disbursed to charities dedicated to abused and neglected children,’ but press reports have stated that the donations made to CfC will be used to defray the costs of the convention-related events: ‘[A]ides to Mr. DeLay, the House majority leader from Texas, acknowledged that part of the money [donated to CfC] would go to pay for late-night convention parties, a luxury suite during President Bush’s speech at Madison Square Garden and yacht cruises.’ The ‘donor packages’ range from a contribution of $10,000 (the so-called ‘Greenwich Village’ package) to $500,000 (the ‘Upper East Side’). The benefits include a ‘luxury suite for Members, Senators, Executive Branch and CfC Sponsors’ to watch President Bush’s speech to the convention, ‘private dinners’ with Rep. DeLay, a ‘Members reception’ during the President’s speech, tickets to a golf tournament, tickets to Broadway shows and ‘a private yacht cruise with TD [Tom DeLay].'”

Lots more here

The tournament, yacht cruise, etc., were canceled, and there are no CfC hits on Google since.


Jonathan Goldberg 04.06.06 at 9:31 am

As for corruption in the United States, there is no doubt that Democrats are caught more often than Republicans. (For a particularly gaudy example, check out the East St. Louis vote fraud stories.)

Florida 2000. Ohio 2004. The blast furnace calling the kettle black.

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