Friday, April 15, 2005
Bush on Tom Delay, with a trap for the Democrats
Q Do you think Mr. DeLay has become a liability to your party or your agenda?
THE PRESIDENT: No, I appreciate that. Look, as I've read his comments today, he wants the Ethics Committee to review his case and he's willing to step up and talk to the Ethics Committee about it. And, secondly, I'm looking forward to working with Tom. He's been a very effective leader. We've gotten a lot done in the legislature, and I'm convinced we'll get more done in the legislature. And I'm looking forward to working with him.
Tom Delay probably wouldn't mind appearing before the Ethics Committee under the new rules, because no matter what he has to say, at least one Republican on the committee would have to support further investigation. And that's not going to happen—yet.
But this is really a ploy to force the Democrats to accept those new Ethics Committee rules. The Democratic members of the committee have refused to sit until the rules are changed, so Delay is now claiming that he would love to talk to the Ethics Committee if he could only get them to meet. Oh ... and their refusal to do so is to protect Democratic Congressman Jim McDermott of Washington, who has the only active case before the committee.
According to Amy Fagan of the Moonie-owned Washington Times,
House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, Texas Republican and a recent target of Democrats' ethics charges, said in an interview with The Washington Times on Wednesday that he would be cleared by a committee investigation, but that Democrats are refusing to convene as a way of shielding Mr. McDermott.
"The Democrats have frozen the committee and have frozen the investigation, and it's helping one of their own," the Republican aide said on the condition of anonymity. "If the committee acts, [Mr. McDermott] would likely suffer consequences."
Meanwhile House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi sprang a surprise resolution yesterday "directing the House speaker to appoint a task force to come up with recommendations "to restore public confidence in the ethics process." FoxNews has it on record that "Pelosi wanted the bipartisan task force to offer recommendations to House Speaker Dennis Hastert (search) by June 1." Unfortunately,
In a 218-195 party-line vote, Republicans pushed back the resolution, which featured a preamble criticizing Republicans for taking actions that "have subjected the committee to public ridicule, produced contempt for the ethics process, created the public perception that their purpose was to protect a member of the House, and weakened the ability of the committee to adequately obtain information and properly conduct its investigative duties, all of which has brought discredit to the House."
This was an excellent countermove. Republicans are now on record in support of the ethics cover-up, and the Democrats have demonstrated that they are not concerned with McDermott's case.
And in related news, the pressure on Delay continues. The Detroit Free Press ran an editorial today that begins—
House Majority Leader Tom DeLay has asked his colleagues in the Senate to keep quiet about inquiries into his questionable fund-raising tactics and ethically borderline junkets.
Instead, they should pressure the Texas Republican to give a full account about reports of traveling at the expense of lobbyists and objectionable antics by his fund-raising operation, instead of the runaround he has offered to date.