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About one thing that

About one thing, that gaggle of ultras and moneymen rising to David Keene's call to save Tom DeLay is right: it doesn't stop with DeLay. And not just because Democrats wouldn't want it to, which goes without saying.

Much depends on whether DeLay gets nailed on particular instances of criminal conduct. But he isn't a Majority Leader who happens, possibly, also to be corrupt. The GOP Majority in the House is built on his corrupt practices, his money machine. They define its modes of operation and priorities.

The oft-mentioned Jack Abramoff may be the prime examplar of that species of Washington operator -- Homo bagmanus. But there are so many more, all cogs in the DeLay machine.

I don't mean that the Democrats would be in the majority if it weren't for DeLay (though it is worth noting that the Republicans only made their modest advances in the House last year because of the criminal conduct DeLay's lieutenants employed in Texas to get the state redistricted). But the cash-n-carry rules he's used to run the House have compromised most of the leadership of the caucus as well as many of its marginal members. DeLay has built a political machine that runs on corrupt, pay-for-play money -- it's the water that floats the river boats he makes run on time.

What about Rep. Bob Ney (R) of Ohio, who is knee-deep in the Abramoff/Scanlon Indian tribe shakedown? He's chairman of the Committee on House Administration. How about the Ethics Committee which was purged of all three Republican members who wouldn't change conference rules to help DeLay deal with impending criminal indictments.

They're right. It doesn't end with DeLay. He and the House Republican party are one and the same.

As we noted yesterday

As we noted yesterday, Rep. Chris Shays (R) of Connecticut says Tom DeLay should go. Reps. Nancy Johnson (R) and Rob Simmons (R) -- his two colleagues from Connecticut -- are apparently on the fence. So I've been wondering where other folks stand. Where does your Republican member of Congress stand on DeLay? Do they think he should stay as Majority Leader?

I notice that the Campaign for America's Future has a page up on their site encouraging folks to call their member of Congress and just ask what they say on DeLay.

So if you call, I wouldn't mind hearing too. But also, if you see something in the local paper or hear your representative say something at a townhall meeting or whatever, let us know. I'd love to know if any of them are willing to join Shays in saying the bug man should go or, for that matter, stand up and stay they support him and want him to stay. I suspect most just won't want to answer at all.

Did I miss Denny

Did I miss Denny Hastert's public vote of confidence in Tom DeLay?

The DCCC blog notes that Sen. Lincoln Chafee has now publicly called on the bug man to explain himself (or some such meaningless paraphrastic remark). This suggests a different possible role for the bug man, even a new function he can serve for the GOP: that of a ready-made issue for any Republican from the Northeast who needs a poster boy for Republican corruption against whom to define themselves and highlight their independence. Of course, that may sound a bit more like a Democratic issue. And you're probably right. But I'm trying to help the best I can.

Chris Shays two Republican

Chris Shays' two Republican colleagues from Connecticut -- Reps. Rob Simmons and Nancy Johnson -- both go finger in the wind on DeLay.

While Shays says DeLay should go, reports the AP, the "state's other two GOP moderates said it's too soon to make such a judgment."

Since the question is whether the Majority Leader should resign, that's rather less than a vote of confidence.

(ed.note: I have no doubt the Democrats will be hammering Rob Simmons for a hundred different reasons over the next 18 months. And good for them. But though it may not be worth much, this is one case where I don't think I'll be joining in. Whatever else you can say about the congressman from eastern Connecticut, he played a small but important role torpedoing Social Security phase-out.)

Genuine certified nutcase. James

Genuine, certified nutcase. James Dobson compares the "men in white robes, the Ku Klux Klan" to the "black-robed men" on the Supreme Court.

You can hear the replay of the show here -- advance to timestamp 22:52.

First they came for Spongebob ...

(ed.note: Thanks to TPM Reader KS for previewing this drivel on our behalf.)

If youre following the

If you're following the Bolton hearings, Steve Clemons' The Washington Note will certainly be the go-to site.

I'm just waiting to see if Sen. Chafee is concerned that Bolton was the guy who pretty much single-handedly resurrected the Niger uranium monkey-business at the State Department.

Another interesting dynamic is

Another interesting dynamic is how many key Social Security switch-hitters are also high on the list of cash recipients from Tom DeLay. Perhaps the best example is young Rep. Mike Ferguson (R) of New Jersey, the biggest DeLay money recipient in Congress, who clocked in at a cool $42,403.

On Social Security, Ferguson is a first class bamboozler. He says his "principles on Social Security are clear: he opposes privatizing Social Security." On the other hand, he supports private accounts.

When President Bush brought the Bamboozlepalooza Tour to his district on March 4th, Ferguson's spokesperson Abby Bird said "The congressman still has a lot of questions that he's looking to get answered about the plans and proposals that are being talked about to strengthen Social Security." Ferguson, she said, thought private accounts were "part of the solution," but not the whole answer.

Ferguson repaid DeLay when it came to the DeLay Rule since he not only apparently supported the Rule but he even went so far as to lie about it to his constituents. In a November 19th, 2004 to a constituent asking how he voted on the DeLay rule, Ferguson claimed that the House Republican Conference "unanimously approved" the DeLay Rule, which is of course false. If it was approved unanimously why do Chris Shays and a couple dozen others say they voted against it?

In the letter Ferguson also went on to repeat the DeLay talking points blaming DeLay's problems on a runaway prosecutor from Texas. The DeLay Rule was needed, he says, because "without the new rule, partisan or self-serving district attorney could threaten or disrupt committee chairman or elected leaders in the House."

Whether all of Ferguson's ridiculousness will weaken him in 2006 is hard to say. He won solidly in 2002 (58%) and 2004 (57%).

How long before we

How long before we hear Hastert make a clear show of support for the embattled DeLay?

Its always fascinating to

It's always fascinating to see how a news meme migrates through the nation's dense ganglia of headline writers and copy editors. Rep. Chris Shays' (R) call for DeLay to resign is not that unexpected, for reasons we'll discuss momentarily. And Rick Santorum's comments on the Stephanopoulos show weren't quite as harsh in their totality as they read in the headlines.

The whole quote was ...

I think he has to come forward and lay out what he did and why he did it and let the people then judge for themselves. But from everything I've heard, again, from the comments and responding to those, is everything he's done was according to the law. Now you may not like some of the things he's done. That's for the people of his district to decide, whether they want to approve that kind of behavior or not. But as far as the focus on him, I think clearly, when you have a leader of Tom DeLay's passion and Tom DeLay's effectiveness, you have a media that's very much going after him and tracking him and dogging him and trying to find what they can about him.

Still, Santorum's no fool. So he knew how those remarks would play in this volatile climate. For all the padding, the bottom line subtext is revealed in the first two sentences and into the third. <$Ad$> In so many words, Santorum says that the bugman is a sleaze, even if he may not have been so sloppy as to violate the law. And DeLay has to mount the pulpit before his constituents, confess his sleazy ways and hope they forgive him.

Not exactly a ringing endorsement and certainly out of step with the Bugman cult of personality David Keene, et. al. are trying to gin up.

("Bugman today, Bugman tomorrah, Bugman forevah.")

What I'm wondering is whether Chris Shays is a leading indicator in the judgment he seems to have made. Shays may be outspoken and independent. (After all, he spoke up about the DeLay Rule before it was cool.) But he ain't stupid. And I think his remarks yesterday and today, dropped like a big water balloon down on to the Sunday shows, reflects a judgment on his part that he can survive or DeLay can, but maybe not the both of them.

At a minimum his political survival now seems closely tied to define himself by his opposition to DeLay and the ultras in the House GOP caucus.

In the article in yesterday's Greenwhich Time on Shays' townhall meeting in which he called DeLay an embarrassment, this passage appeared ...

Town resident John Howard, 39, said he has supported Shays in the past and knows that the congressman is not a defender of DeLay. Even so, Howard said, he wouldn't continue to support Shays if he voted to keep DeLay in power.

"I was very proud of you for standing up to the Republican caucus," Howard said. "However, you do vote for the Republican leadership in Congress -- and you must know that you have a lot of constituents, like myself, who deeply respect you, and agree with you on many different issues -- but I can't vote for a congressperson who would vote to keep Tom DeLay in power. You must understand that he's a liability for you."

Shays had a pretty close call in November. The woman who gave him a run for his money is, I suspect, going to run against him again. And he's already showing signs of wilting in his support for private accounts. In swing districts in the Northeast next year it's hard to believe there won't be a strong anti-House majority tide. And the most obvious way for him to avoid getting swept up in that is to make himself the Republican who stood up to Tom DeLay.

I'm not saying it's all so clear cut or immediate or intentional in every respect. But the balancing act that Shays has played for years gets more difficult as the national politics grows more partisan and the House Republicans decline in popularity. And his own survival might depend heavily on being able to go into next year's election with a dynamite response to any opponent who tries to connect him to DeLay.