Thursday, September 29, 2005

THIS IS RICH: Blogs for Bush -- arguably the most divisive president in U.S. history --is accusing Democrats of fomenting a civil war.

Mark Noonan at B for B is upset at Tom DeLay's indictment for conspiracy to violate Texas's campaign financing law. Naturally, he thinks it's entirely without merit and motivated by partisan politics. (And someday someone will explain when politics is not partisan.)

...[T]he "indictment" of Tom Delay is entirely bogus - from what I've read, Tom Delay didn't know about the perfectly legal transaction he is accused of conspiring to make. We have now left entirely the field of normal political conflict and entered a twilight world where fantasy is presented as fact and the only standard of conduct is "will it work?". This is not the actions of a political Party engaged in seeking a majority - it is the action of a Party determined to destroy its opponents entirely and sieze all power for is, in short, the stuff from which civil wars are made.

I don't know what Noonan read, but even the defense in this case is not arguing that the transaction in question was legal. Texas law forbids corporate funding of political campaigns; the funneling of corporate campaign money to the RNC and the RNC's transfer of that money back to the TRMPAC was a clear attempt to circumvent that law. The only dispute is whether DeLay knew the money coming into his PAC was laundered corporate money. He says no, but clearly the prosecutor, Ronnie Earle, has evidence he believes is strong enough for a conviction, and just as clearly the grand jury agrees. DeLay is still entitled to a presumption of innocence, obviously. But that does not mean the charges themselves are frivolous.

Noonan writes that DeLay's indictment would not happen in a "normal" democracy:

In a normal democratic society, the political parties argue it out, resort to the voters and abide by the results - in our very abnormal society, there is no argument. There is accusation and innuendo, and the count of the voters is considered null and void unless it comes to the "correct" conclusion as determined by one Party. The Democrats do not like Tom Delay - and that is natural and normal given that Delay is a senior leader of the other side, and a damned effective one at that. But this quest to destroy Delay goes beyond the pale - it is an outrage; a negation of all that America is about...a betrayal of American political institutions.

This is a bizarre description of how a democratic society functions; unfortunately, it closely fits the way many in Bush's America define the role of elected officials and private citizens in a democracy. Respect for the electoral process does not mean ignoring electoral fraud. Neither does respect for the legitimacy of an election's outcome require Congress or the citizenry to support everything elected officials do and say. Democrats in Congress are under no obligation to keep silent about Tom DeLay's behavior just because he wins elections. Neither are Republicans, for that matter.

No one is trying to "destroy" DeLay -- unless holding him accountable for the consequences of his actions is "trying to destroy" him. DeLay is charged with a felony. If he actually committed a felony, he should pay the price.

Instead of all the whining about Democrats supporting false charges against DeLay out of a desire for revenge for DeLay's "effective leadership," Noonan and others of his ilk might consider the possibility that the majority leader's own well-earned reputation for strong-arming colleagues, for being a bully, and for making those who cross him "pay" for their opposition, is playing a big part in what's happening to him now.

Publius over at Legal Fiction alludes to this karmic aspect of the DeLay debacle:

Being too busy to blog about Christian Tom DeLay is sort of like the Snow Day episode of the Simpsons. For those who haven't seen that one, Bart makes a deal with God that if he'll give him an extra day to study for a test that will keep him from failing, he'll study hard. God complies with a snow day, and Bart is stuck inside watching everyone in the town play. Mayor Quimby rubs salt in the wound by saying: "I hereby declare this day to be Snow Day, the funnest day in the history of Springfield!" That's me, tonight. Watching out the window while Christian Tom DeLay begins his Shakespearian fall. But I do have a few quick thoughts to get out or else I'll explode.

First, the mere fact that DeLay was forced out is not the reason his fall was Shakespearian. The reason is that the characteristics (whether you call them virtues or vices) that led to his ascent are precisely the same characteristics that led to his descent. The ruthlessness, the insatiable drive for power, the willingness to ignore moral (and legal) boundaries - these are all responsible for DeLay's rise to power and his not-unimpressive ironclad control over the House (an institution designed to be chaotic and mob-like). But like other fictional villains before him, the characteristics that got him there necessarily required that he would one day go too far. The fall cannot be separated from the rise. It was the cost of power and success - his deal with the devil; the yang to his yin (or yen). (This may also apply to Christian Karl Rove one day too).

Indeed. And Ronnie Earlie is trying to uphold the law. It's not as if he's breaking the law and putting DeLay's family and colleagues in danger to punish DeLay for publicly opposing White House foreign policy, right? Now that's something that might reasonably be called politically motivated.

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