“Terri Schiavo is not brain-dead; she talks and she laughs, and she expresses happiness and discomfort. Terri Schiavo is not on life support.”
– Tom DeLay, March 20, 2005
If you believed Tom DeLay then, you no doubt believe now that the deposed House majority leader is only on “temporary” leave from his powerful perch in Washington and that he’ll soon bounce back, laughing all the way, from a partisan witch hunt that unjustly requires his brief discomfort in a Texas courtroom.
Those who still live in the reality-based community, however, may sense they’re watching the beginning of the end of something big. It’s not just Mr. DeLay, a k a the Hammer, who is on life support, but a Washington establishment whose infatuation with power and money has contaminated nearly every limb of government and turned off a public that by two to one finds the country on the wrong track.
This is the culture that has given us the government we have. It’s a government that has spent more of the taxpayers’ money than any since L.B.J.’s (as calculated by the Cato Institute, a libertarian research institution), even as it rewards its benefactors with tax breaks and corporate pork. It’s a government so used to lying that Mr. DeLay could say with a straight face that the cost of Katrina relief could not be offset by budget cuts because there was no governmental fat left to cut. It’s the government that fostered the wholesale loss of American lives in both Iraq and on the Gulf Coast by putting cronyism above patriotism.
The courts can punish crooks, but they can’t reform democracy from the ground up, and the voters can’t get into the game until 2006. Meanwhile, on the Republican side, the key players both in the White House and in the leadership of both houses of Congress are either under investigation or joined at the hip to Messrs Rove, DeLay, Abramoff, Reed or Norquist. They seem to be hoping that some magical event – a sudden outbreak of peace and democracy in Iraq, the capture of Osama bin Laden, a hurricane affording better presidential photo ops than Rita – will turn things around. Dream on.
To hear Tom DeLay tell it, his indictment last week by a Texas grand jury resulted from a vast left-wing conspiracy – the culmination of years of relentless pursuit by Democrats who, in Mr. DeLay’s words, “drug my name through the mud.”
Democrats, of course, brushed the accusation aside, saying Mr. Delay, a Texas Republican, had only himself to blame for the conspiracy charge that forced him to step aside as the House majority leader.
But in fact an extensive network of forces has been aligned against Mr. DeLay – a kaleidoscope of activists and liberals, clean-government advocates and legal experts, even a smattering of resentful conservatives and Republican moderates, all bound by their desire to see him stopped.
Perhaps the most famously zealous Ahab in pursuit of Mr. DeLay’s resignation is David Donnelly, the national campaign director for the Public Campaign Action Fund, a nonprofit organization with an adjoining political committee that has devoted its efforts to tracking the House leader. Its heavily trafficked Web log, the “Daily DeLay” compiles negative articles about Mr. DeLay’s activities. It spent some $200,000 in his district in the 2004 campaign, according to Mr. Donnelly, and has circulated an online petition demanding that Mr. DeLay quit.
Mr. DeLay referred to his firing squad as a “left-wing syndicate” in interviews last April. “These people are all hooked up,” he said on Fox News. “The same people that went after George W. Bush have just changed their focus onto me.”
Frankly, I think if there was such a thing as a “vast left-wing conspiracy” — an oxymoron if there ever was one — we would not have wasted our time on a pipsqueak like Tom DeLay. We would have won the election in 2000, we would have run the Republicans out of the majority in the Congress and Senate, and we would have opened gay bars and abortion clinics in St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Dream big dreams, Tom.
When I was chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (1993-97), I asked Bill Bennett to visit my office so that I could ask him for help in seeking legislation that would pay for internet access in all classrooms and libraries in the country. Eventually Senators Olympia Snowe and Jay Rockefeller, with the White House leadership of President Clinton and Vice President Gore, put that provision in the Telecommunications Law of 1996, and today nearly 90% of all classrooms and libraries do have such access. The schools covered were public and private. So far the federal funding (actually collected from everyone as part of the phone bill) has been matched more or less equally with school district funding to total about $20 billion over the last seven years. More than 90% of all teachers praise the impact of such technology on their work. At any rate, since Mr. Bennett had been Secretary of Education I asked him to support the bill in the crucial stage when we needed Republican allies. He told me he would not help, because he did not want public schools to obtain new funding, new capability, new tools for success. He wanted them, he said, to fail so that they could be replaced with vouchers,charter schools, religious schools, and other forms of private education. Well, I thought, at least he’s candid about his true views. The key Senate committee voted almost on party lines on the bill, all D’s for and all R’s against, except one — Olympia Snowe. Her support provided the margin of victory. On the House side, Speaker Gingrich made sure the provision was not in the companion bill, but in conference again Senators Snowe and Rockefeller, with White House support, made the difference. The Internet has been the first technology made available to students in poorly funded schools at about the same time and in about the same way as to students in well funded schools. [Emphasis added.]
Gee, it’s nice to see someone who once ran the Department of Education openly admitting he wanted to sabotage the very thing he was supposed to promote. That’s his idea of drowning the government in the bathtub. To quote John McKay, he’s a sick bastard.