Yes. . .Karl Rove, Dick Cheney, and George W. Bush have had their starring roles in the subversion of our system of checks and balances that makes American democracy work — but they are all in the Executive Branch. Chief executives try to be monarchs; they can’t help it.
However, Tom DeLay knuckled under his colleagues in the Republican establishment, the Democrats, the corporate community, and much of the media in a near total humiliation and emasculation of the Congress in its role as a check on the President and Executive Branch authority.
DeLay’s role is the starring one that has undermined this nation because he kept Congress from behaving as Congress should vis-a-vis the White House: as a check on power. This has been the reality throughout American history, even when one party controlled the legislature and the executive — until Tom DeLay.
I once told a group of gay rights activists, followed the next day by a group of climate change-focused environmentalists, followed by a large group of young American globally-engaged internationalists that the very best thing that they could all work on rather than their pet projects was to work to unseat Tom DeLay. Sue him. Unearth the scandals. Keep the pressure up.
Tom DeLay has done more than nearly any other person to harm the machinery of democratic process in America — and his indictment for campaign finance conspiracy and fall today gives me some hope that some of what this nation has lost is recoverable. DeLay will fight his accusers — but he won’t be back in party leadership. The long knives are out to get him — and it has been overdue.
Josh Marshall disagrees with me and thinks that Dreier got the job because DeLay thinks he can move him out of the position when he’s done with his legal wrangling. I don’t think so. I think that Dreier, Blount, even Hastert have all been patiently waiting for the Hammer to get hammered.
Many will decry the ascension to DeLay’s job of House Rules Committee Chairman David Dreier because of the conflict between his in-the-closet gay life and some of the votes he has taken on hate crimes and other gay-related issues. He should be challenged on those.
But at the same time, Dreier is not dogmatic ideologue. It’s startling and refreshing that Hastert has thrown his weight behind Dreier to succeed DeLay as Majority Leader in the House.
He’s a centrist — and this is good news for progressives and sensible conservatives. Dreier will make sure that DeLay never gets back into that office.
— Steve Clemons