Ok, so I can't help myself. CNN splashed former House Majority Leader Tom Delay's mug shot across the screen, and I got a little giddy. I don't know whether Delay is guilty or not, though I find the "politically-motivated" defense thin at best. Is Ronnie Earle out to get to Delay? Maybe. The bottom line, however, is that Delay represents a craven, power-hungry side of the Republican Party, which is devouring itself in its own corruption. Delay may or may not be guilty of the specific charges against him; Delay is guilty, without a doubt, of crooked politics with aims to only benefit himself and his friends.
There have always been corruption allegations against Delay and Congressional members of the national Republican Party. From ethical violations to pork-barrel spending to a president who has not seen a spending bill he didn't like, the crop of Republicans that rode into Congress during the Republican Revolution and the "Contract with America," who were no Johnny-come-nicelys themselves, have transmogrified into a bloated, bellering machine that has come to expect people to simply take them at their word and not ask questions. The difference this time around is that very few conservatives, and extremely few of any of import, are backing up Delay 100 percent. Even conservative icon George Will, writing in the October 17 Newsweek, said, "Delay, who neither knows nor cares about calculus, probably will never return to the House leadership, and might even be voted out of the House in 13 months."
Will's article, which focuses primarily on the excesses of Republicans, is an example of why the right - or more particularly this right - is so wrong for America, and so wrong for the supposedly conservative base, as discussed in Thomas Frank's What's The Matter With Kansas? In a previous post, I wrote about Roy Moore and what I see as the coming insurrection within the Republican Party. (Bear in mind, the Democrats have more than their share of problems as well, but I am focusing on Republicans here.) Up to this point, it appears that social conservatives, of the kind Frank looks at in his book, have been able to look the other way at Congressional (and presidential) Republicans who are elected on social conservative platforms, and when in office proceed to kow-tow that agenda in favor of showering the wealthiest of this nation, including businesses, with tax cuts, subsidies, and so on. When election time rolls around again, as in 2004, many Republican politicians whip their social conservative base into a frenzy over abortion, gay marriage, and yada-yada. Yet, once put back in office, the pols shelve those social conservative issues in favor of Social Security "reform," unfavorable (to lower- and middle-class citizens) bankruptcy measures, and massive wastes of money in the form of a transportation bill. Then, our so-called fiscally conservative Republican president flip-flops by instituting the largest domestic reconstruction effort since, well, the Reconstruction, while at the same time insisting that revenue cuts such as the repeal of the estate tax be made permanent.
Anyone who believes that Republicans who are currently administering and legislating our federal government are true conservatives is either blind or a fool. As George Will states, "Conservatives are not supposed to be cuddly, or even particularly nice. They are, however, supposed to be competent. And to know that scarcity - of money, virtue, wisdom, competence, everthing - forces choices. Furthermore, they are supposed to have an unsentimental commitment to meritocracy and excellence." If this definition fit the description of our country's current leadership, I wouldn't necessarily be happy, but I would be far more tolerant. The leadership comes nowhere near this definition, however.
And even if it did, I'd still take some guilty delight in seeing Delay's mugshot.