DeLay damage control too little, too late

When things look like they can’t get any worse, sometimes it is best to just get out of the spotlight and start to pick up the pieces.

Right now, Tom DeLay is making a similar move he hopes will keep himself and his party from getting too much negative publicity. But even though he is “quitting Congress,” it is a little too late for him to begin to remove himself from the eye of the mainstream media.

DeLay’s decision to not run for re-election in November is causing quite a shake-up and is marking an end to the DeLay Era in Congress. So let’s review the reasons why it has come to this for DeLay, in order to better understand why he can run, but he can’t hide.

First of all, DeLay’s long-time questionable relationship with now infamous lobbyist Jack Abramoff has been in and out of the media and the Democrats’ watchful eye for more than a year. It wasn’t until recently that there was actually a formal indictment of DeLay for money laundering and conspiracy.

In November, one of DeLay’s top aides pled guilty to conspiracy to bribe. Now, if DeLay’s aides are involved in the bribery scandal, it is highly unlikely DeLay had no clue what was going on. It will be hard to prove that he wasn’t directly involved himself.

With Abramoff pleading guilty to his charges in January, things continue to close down around DeLay. Although Abramoff accepted various charges, he did agree to assist in further investigations. This could threaten a lot of powerful people in Congress and bring even more scandal to the Republican side of the aisle.

All these events, though spaced out over a year, all lead to one culminating action. With DeLay not running for the House again, there are sure to be some lasting effects; however, a lot of damage has already been done to the Republican Party.

When DeLay stepped down as the House majority leader, he threw off the stable Republican-dominated House, but that was just the beginning. All the controversy surrounding DeLay could threaten the GOP’s position in Congress. Although the conservatives on Capitol Hill have stayed by him through most of his legal troubles, the consequences to the party’s majority will play out in the next election.

According to The Washington Post, the loss of the Republican ethics can be compared to the Democrats’ loss of power in the mid-1990s. Circumstances such as DeLay’s have brought about big changes in the past. This whole situation illustrates that power is only temporary and that lessons have not been learned.

Recent moves to reform Congressional ethics laws now sit in both houses, although it is unlikely that any breakthrough will come out of them. Slight variations in the wording will not stop members of Congress from taking bribes. DeLay’s political history proves that major reform is truly needed.

DeLay’s style of leadership was a change to most majority leaders in the past because he did not seek out media attention. This continues to be his style as his stay in the House comes to an end, with a not-so-squeaky-clean record.

The above editorial is the general consensus of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.