Two Cheers for Tom DeLay


The disgraced former Majority Leader kicked up some dust for old time's sake when he resigned from Congress yesterday. But give the man his due. Minorities might have kept him from volunteering for Vietnam, but they didn't stop him from reasserting his principles.

The 11-term Republican from Texas, said it is customary for departing lawmakers to "reminisce about the 'good old days' of political harmony and across-the-aisle camaraderie."

"I can't do that," he said.

"For all its faults, it is partisanship—based on core principles—that clarifies our debates, that prevents one party from straying too far from the mainstream and that constantly refreshes our politics with new ideas and new leaders," DeLay said.

This has inspired whining from predictable corners—some Democrats walked out when DeLay was giving the speech. But what he's saying is objectively true. It's a Texas-bred, Abramoff-bribed version of Federalist No. 10. If you want to hear something pathetic or actually corrosive to the Republic, take an insulin shot and try to stomach politicians who talk about "ending the partisanship in Washington." Nine times out of ten, they're trying to silence political speech or crafting a bold new state-expanding program.

Of course, ideas like this don't mean much coming from Tom DeLay. As Crowley points out in that TNR link, "the problem here is that DeLay really wasn't all that principled." (The forementioned whiners are the Democratic staffers, not Crowley.) He believed in sharpening the differences between the parties on social issues and finessing them on bureaucracy and spending, to the point where he probably made the make-or-break difference in votes for the 2003 Medicare expansion.