Wednesday, September 28, 2005

The Hammer got hammered: Tom Delay’s Leadership role, RIP

Majority Leader Tom Delay [R-TX] has been indicted on one count of criminal conspiracy and will step down [See here] with Cong. David Dreier [R- San Dimas, CA] expected to replace him. With the Bush Administration and the Republican congressional leaders doing damage control, they are talking about a “temporary suspension,” of Delay’s duties and Cong. Dreier taking over “some of,” Delay’s duties [See here], but that’s just to soften the transition. Good bye Tom Delay. Hello David Dreier. [See here].

Of course, the short run effect on the White House and the Republican Party is not good. Looking at the bright side, the Republicans might say—It gets Michael Brown, Katrina and low Bush Approval ratings off the front page. Indeed, this is a recent pattern. Katrina got the Iraq War casualties and civilian deaths due to car bombings off the front page. Now, Delay gets Katrina and Michael Brown off the front page. Unfortunately, for the Republicans, each such event drives the President’s approval ratings lower and lower. Karl Rove has lost his magic.

However, long run, Dreier [Chairman, House Rules Committee] in for Delay could be just what the doctor ordered. Speaker Hastert and President Bush are probably toasting each other as I write this. Delay, despite his prowess first as a Party Whip and then as Majority Leader who could help congressmen get elected and stay there, had perhaps outlived his usefulness to the Party. He is definitely not a good face to put on the National Republican Party. Congressman Dreier is. Like Delay, Dreier is conservative, but not quite as much conservative, and much smoother, much more articulate and much better on TV than Delay.

As to the actual indictment of Majority Leader Delay, Ronnie Earle, the Travis County District Attorney who brought these charges and who has been gunning for Delay for a long time, is a strong Democrat partisan with little pretense of impartiality. One of Delay’s lawyers, Bill White, a Democrat himself, is referring to the indictment as "skunky." [See here]. However, even a relatively quick dismissal of the indictment, which could happen, won’t be quick enough to catapult Tom Delay back into the Republican House Leadership.

Although the White House is saying Delay is a good friend and ally, that’s about as far as it will go. ABC News’ Terry Moran did manage to get the White House to confirm this morning that it has “confidence,” in Delay, but that was like pulling teeth. And, Moran also got the White House to confirm that it took the allegations in the indictment of Delay seriously.

Tom Delay, aka "The Hammer," got hammered this morning. Delay may stay on as Congressman if he prevails over the indictment, but, like former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, who faced a much less serious matter, the bottom line is: Tom Delay’s role in Leadership, RIP.
Jeff Berkowitz, Host and Producer of Public Affairs and an Executive Recruiter doing Legal Search, can be reached at