Two Cheers for Tom DeLay

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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.

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  1. What needs restoring isn’t what some remember as harmony and some as horse-trading, but the basic human respect that allows compromise.

    When ‘opponents’ become ‘enemies’, when their ideas rise from evil hearts and their initiatives from corrupt motives; when 50.1% confers a mandate to ignore anything but your partisans, we have lost what made the good old days however good they were.

    And DeLay is more responsible than most for the loss. Bye, Tom!

  2. Nine times out of ten, they’re trying to silence political speech or crafting a bold new state-expanding program.

    By my count, its ten times out of ten.

  3. David,

    I think you missed the point about why the Democrats walked out. DeLay’s speech was as much about the evils of the “liberalism” of his definition (and applying it to all Democrats) as it was about partisanship. The speech, taken as a whole, basically said partisan rancor is good because look how evil half the country is. Tom DeLay is a jackass who doesn’t have a conservative bone in his body. His extremist partisanship effectively silenced coherent political speech for the last five or six years. Good riddance.

  4. I wish Congressmen would just go back to beating each other up and challenging each other to duels. Them was the good ole days.

  5. Now I know more about Delay than I ever intended to know.
    He’s a prankster all right!

  6. Sorry, Dave, but if you want to hear something pathetic or actually corrosive to the Republic, try listening to the speeches that Tom gave regarding the Terri Shiavo case, in which he asserted the right of Congress to overrule state judges applying state law, trashing not only the U.S. Constitution but the entire notion of law. Two cheers for Tom? Make that a negative ten!

    It’s interesting that “conservatives” like DeLay, Scalia, and George Bush have all claimed essentially plenary power to do whatever is “right,” regardless of the constitutional definitions and limitations of the offices they hold. They’re right-wing, but they aren’t conservative, if that’s actually supposed to mean respect for the limitations on state power that the founding fathers had in mind.

  7. “This has inspired whining from predictable corners – some Democrats walked out when DeLay was giving the speech”

    Nah, the Democrats walked out when DeLay accused liberals of engaging in the very behaviors that were hallmarks of DeLay’s career- “more government, more taxation, more control over people’s lives and wallets”.

  8. And that’s not an accurate description of the Dem program how, exactly?

    Sure, DeLay’s a hypocrite, but why would a Democrat be insulted by having those goals attributed to them?

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