Home Page











Important #s

Other News

Add an event



Dave McNeely
State Politics

This column expresses the personal opinions/views of the writer. If you would like to express your opinions/views regarding the column, write a SIGNED letter to the editor. Name can be withheld by request with a valid day time phone number.
The Hammer Nails Himself  

When it comes to Tom DeLay, the clichés runneth over. “When an incumbent loses, he usually beats himself.” That could certainly apply to the former U.S. House majority leader, who announced several days ago that he would resign and move his residence to Virginia.

That way, he can get off the ballot as the Republican congressional candidate in District 22, and maybe give his Republican Party a chance to hang onto it.

“The bigger they are, the harder they fall.” DeLay had built a power machine in Washington, demonstrating that his well-earned nickname of “The Hammer” could be used to make not only the lobbying firms of K Street toe his line, but also his party members to whom he funneled campaign cash and other perks.

“Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely.” That saying demonstrated what a lot of observers have been saying for years: that DeLay was so hell-bent on his goal of achieving and keeping power that he forgot where the boundaries were – if he ever knew in the first place.

About three years ago, when he was told in a steak house in Washington that he couldn’t smoke his cigar because it was against federal rules, he replied, “I am the federal government.”

While wrapping himself in a Christian cloak and spouting holy names, DeLay was also the kingpin in a money machine that, among other things, sent him on posh trips paid for by lobbyists, and channeled hundreds of thousands of dollars to his own family.

In a column almost exactly a year ago, before former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay had ever been indicted, I predicted he would become so hot that every Democrat running in 2006, for any office, would be running against him.

I also predicted that even members of his own party –the party that he had built up in Congress by iron fisted redistricting, rock-hard voting discipline, by the K Street Project– would abandon him in droves.

Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle and a grand jury later helped that along, by indicting DeLay for his role in funneling corporate money into Texas legislative elections. The indictment, after some stops and starts while DeLay’s minions tried to change the rules, made it so DeLay had to step aside from the majority leader post while he was under indictment.

But what was not predicted was that DeLay would become so hot that even he had to distance himself from himself. After winning the Republican primary with considerably less of a margin than he would have hoped, after a house-to-house search for voters, DeLay realized – perhaps with help from his fellow GOP partisans – that if his party had a good chance to hang onto his congressional seat, it would have to be with someone other than him as the candidate.

It should be pointed out that DeLay had other incentives as well. He has well over a million dollars in campaign funds. He could choose to spend that on what even he began to realize could be a losing campaign. Or, he could carry that money with him out of office, and spend it on legal fees, on travel to promote causes, or to give to other politicians – to curry favor for whatever his next move may be.

However, he leaves a legacy: he was the major catalyst in bringing to the once amicably bipartisan Texas Legislature the type of party division that he had hammered into place in Washington.

Perhaps someday it can be undone. But as often happens in the wake of a scorched-earth war, the bitterness, distrust and division last for not just years, but decades.

There have been thoughts about bringing American-style democracy to Iraq. But if DeLay’s is the lesson, his operational method isn’t much better than what’s going on between the Shiites and the Sunnis.

It may never be possible to return to the point, in Texas and in Washington, where legislators candisagree without being disagreeable. But it’s a worthwhile goal. And it’ll be easier without DeLay.

# # #

And So On. . . . Former Texas Gov. Ann Richards was honored Tuesday by having a planned Austin Independent School District girls’ school named for her.

The Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders, aimed at helping predominantly lower-income girls become prepared for college, will begin in the fall of 2007, with 230 students in the sixth and seventh grades. It will grow a grade a year until it reaches grades 6 through 12 in 2013, with a few over 800 students.

Richards, 72, recently diagnosed with cancer of the esophagus, said she is doing fine and feels fine, while undergoing weekly chemotherapy treatments at M.D. Anderson Cancer Hospital in Houston.

Richards also had this thought for legislators, ready to assemble in Austin April 17 to deal with the school finance system: “I’m very distrustful of glib talk about cutting taxes.”

“The children of Texas deserve the best” when it comes to schools, Richards said. Without the best schools, the Texas economy will suffer, she added.

Contact Dave McNeely at dmcneely@austin.rr.com or 512/458-2963.

Ad Rates



User Agreement

Privacy Stmt

About Us

   Copyright © 2000 by FortBendstar.com.  All rights reserved. 
   Last Update:  September 07, 2006