As a new member of the Republican Party, I was shocked and dismayed at the announcement that one of the leaders of the party’s Congressional Caucus was retiring from the field.
Tom DeLay, the Texas congressman and our former majority leader, announced this past week that not only has he decided to drop out of the race, but he’s also decided to leave Congress altogether.
My shock and dismay, however, turned to admiration when I read DeLay’s reasons for leaving the race.
“I think I could have won this seat but it would have been nasty,” he said. “I refuse to allow liberal Democrats an opportunity to steal this seat with a negative, personal campaign.”
Wow. Who knew a guy who proudly bore the nickname “The Hammer” for his hardball tactics could suddenly get so sensitive about a “nasty” and “negative” campaign? It brings a tear to my eye that someone would be so noble and self-sacrificing as to spare the voters of Texas anything that might be negative or nasty in politics. Not to mention the prospect that the Democrats might steal the election by, you know, persuading people to vote for a candidate that wasn’t under indictment.
Inspiring, I tell you. Inspiring.
Some cynics might say that the decision, announced on Tuesday, comes suspiciously close on the heels of the announcement that Tony Rudy, DeLay’s former press secretary and deputy chief of staff, had pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges.
Rudy’s plea deal involved the usual promises of “cooperation” with ongoing investigations into official corruption. DeLay, however, stressed in an interview with Time magazine that he came to this decision last Wednesday, the 29th, two days before Rudy pled out.
Some of those liberal cynics might also find it odd that the next day, the 30th, DeLay sent out a fundraising letter for the campaign he says he’d just decided to abandon.
“Dear Friend,” the letter began. “The real battle has begun. This November, we face a serious challenge to our core conservative beliefs.” The letter goes on to describe in stirring terms a recent documentary made about DeLay, which he compared to Michael Moore’s “Fahrenheit 9-11.” (When we Republicans play the Michael Moore card, you know we’re serious. Moore’s fat, you know.)
“Now is the time to show these national liberals we stand together and are not afraid to fight for our conservative Texas values,” the letter states. “I urgently need you to renew your commitment in my campaign today.”
Now, if you gave to the DeLay campaign in the days between the time he decided to drop out and the time he actually did so, fear not. Thanks to a recent FEC ruling rendered in the case of former Republican Congressman and convicted felon Randy “Duke” Cunningham, DeLay will most likely be able to use the money raised from his loyal supporters to defend conservatives’ most important “core belief,” namely keeping conservatives out of jail.
Thanks to the FEC ruling, DeLay, like Cunningham, will be able to use money raised in his campaign to pay for his legal defense. I’m sure that will make DeLay’s backers in Texas feel better, even if the “battle” they’re financing wasn’t against Democrat Nick Lampson but instead against Texas D.A. Ronnie Earle. Or perhaps some federal prosecutor to be named later. We Republicans are understanding like that.
Speaking of understanding, the reaction of fellow Republicans reminds me of why I decided to join the GOP. “[DeLay] has served our nation with integrity and honor,” said Majority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, who succeeded DeLay in his leadership post earlier this year after DeLay was indicted.
That’s what I love about my new party. I mean, who cares if DeLay was “admonished” by the ethics committee three times in one year? It was all in good fun. They didn’t really mean anything by it.
Heck, DeLay’s fellow Republicans not only changed the committee rules to make it harder to bring ethics charges, but they also changed the membership of the committee to put on two members who had contributed to DeLay’s legal defense fund. Now, that’s the kind of honor and integrity a guy like me can really relate to.
And it’s not just the high pooh-bahs of the party you can count on in a pinch, it’s the rank-and-file.
Check out this comment from the conservative Web site Redstate.org: “Look, I’ll be honest. I don’t care if DeLay broke a few laws. He was good for our side, and I’d rather have a corrupt Republican than an honest Democrat.”
You’ve got to love the fact that, no matter how corrupt you are, you can count on your fellow Republicans to back you up.
Let me stress, however, that I’m not counting on my newfound brethren and sistern in the GOP to bail me out of something I’ve actually done, or something I actually plan on doing. It’s just nice to know you, my fellow Republicans, will close ranks and back me up if I stumble, so long as that stumble doesn’t involve being caught in bed with either a live man or a dead woman. And even the dead woman might be negotiable. Again, no plans for either, but hey, stuff happens.
Thank you, and God bless the GOP.