Sunday, January 08, 2006

House Leadership Race Heats Up

Looks like it is time for back-to-back episodes of The Tom DeLay Comedy Hour! This is from Yahoo News:

WASHINGTON - GOP Rep. John Boehner of Ohio said Sunday he is in the race to be House majority leader while Republican Rep. Roy Blunt of Missouri was campaigning for the job after Tom DeLay decided against trying to regain the No. 2 leadership post.

Rep. John Boehner, R-OH. AP File Photo

"I want to provide leadership that gives every member a voice in developing a common vision for how we will lead the Congress and restore a sense of trust among members, our leaders, and the American people," Boehner said in a statement.

Blunt, a DeLay protege, has served as acting majority leader when the Texas Republican had temporarily left the leadership post to fight criminal charges in his home state. On Saturday, DeLay stepped down as majority leader, saying, "I cannot allow our adversaries to divide and distract our attention."

DeLay had insisted until this weekend that he would reclaim his duties after clearing his name.

The powerful job is central to advancing the agenda of majority Republicans on Capitol Hill.

So now we've got ourselves a fight for DeLay's majority leader position. And we've got two challengers for that position in Boehner, and Blunt.

Tom DeLay. AP File Photo

The Republicans are going to have a problem in their selection for a new majority leader. First, whoever they choose is going to have to be a strong, decisive leader in order to face the enormous challenges the Republican Party has. The new majority leader is going to have a struggle in pushing the Bush administration's agenda through Congress--Social Security privitization, tax cuts, immigration, tax code overhaul, and continued support for the war in Iraq. The majority leader also is going to have to face the problems of the scandals coming out of both Congress and the Bush White House--Valerie Plame, intelligence failures, Jack Abramoff, Tom DeLay, "culture of corruption" charges, and even the NSA wiretaps. The Democrats are certainly going to push for investigations into all of these scandals. How the new majority leader responds to these challenges will reflect how the legislative nature and direction the House will take over the course of this year. And remember, this is also a mid-term election year.

But there's another problem here in this new race for the majority leader. Whoever the House Republicans choose as their new majority leader, the candidate must not be tainted by any of the scandals coming out against the Republican Party. That's going to be a problem, considering that federal prosecutors are looking at a number of congressmen involved with either Jack Abramoff, Tom DeLay, Alexander Strategy Group, Indian casinos, Duke Cunningham, and the other corruption details that has been coming out of the Republican-controlled Congress. A candidate who is tainted with any of these scandals is going to find his reputation tarnished. And anything that candidate will say or do as the new majority leader will be questioned in regards to whether such actions are involved with the corruption allegations surrounding the candidate. That is a major problem that acting House Majority Leader Roy Blunt has now. Even though Blunt is running to become the new House Majority Leader, he is also tainted with the DeLay scandal, considering that Blunt was DeLay's protege. Consider this from The Los Angeles Times:

Rep. Roy Blunt of Missouri, the majority whip temporarily serving as majority leader, is a DeLay protege who received $8,500 in campaign contributions linked to Abramoff. Last week, he announced he would give that amount to charity.

Rep Roy Blunt, R-MO. AP File Photo

In June 2003, the Washington Post reported that Blunt had tried to insert into legislation a provision benefiting Philip Morris USA Co. at a time when he had a close personal relationship with its lobbyist and when his son worked for the cigarette maker.

You can bet that the feds are looking into what Blunt has been doing in his relationship with DeLay. Much of these ties have come out after Blunt became acting majority leader, and his record was scrutinized since Blunt was DeLay's protege. Blunt's running for the majority leadership position will cause a greater investigation into Blunt's relationship with DeLay, and possibly with Abramoff.

And yet, Boehner is also not clean in this race. Consider this from The LA Times:

Another possible candidate for majority leader, Rep. John Boehner of Ohio, also had financial links to Abramoff.

According to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, he received $32,500 in campaign contributions from Abramoff and the lobbyist's clients — more than DeLay did.

And in the mid-1990s, Boehner was criticized by public interest groups for passing out campaign contributions from tobacco companies to lawmakers on the House floor.

If Blunt or Boehner became majority leader, it would leave them open to Democratic charges that they remain steeped in a "culture of corruption" in Washington.

That is certainly not what the Republicans would like to have in this midterm election year. I don't know much about Boehner's relationship with Abramoff, or what deals were involved between Boehner and Abramoff. However, if Boehner is elected as majority leader, his ascension into the leadership position will certainly prompt greater scrutiny into this ties with Abramoff. The skeletons will be pulled out of Boehner's closet. Also remember, Abramoff is cooperating with the federal prosecutors, so who knows what Abramoff is saying to the feds.

If either of these candidates are elected as the new majority leader, you can bet it is going to cause more problems for the House Republicans. They are in a major bind. Consider this from Yahoo News:

The shake-up in the GOP leadership follows a decline in polls of the public's opinions of Republicans who control Congress. Also, lobbyist Jack Abramoff's confessions of guilt on corruption charges in connection with his dealings with lawmakers have roiled Congress.

"Our party's in big trouble," Rep. Ray LaHood, R-Ill., said Sunday. "We've created a huge controversy and if we don't get beyond this, we're going to be the minority party a year from now."

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