Sunday, April 09, 2006

Hammered: What I Saw at the Republican Revolution

I found this interesting op-ed piece in the Washington Post. The piece is written by John Feehery, who was Tom DeLay's communications director from 1995 to 1998. Now I know that Freehery's piece is going to be biased in favor of Tom DeLay, but there are some details in here that deserve some commenting on. Consider this:

For the next 3 1/2 years, I experienced the Republican revolution firsthand, witnessing the rise of Tom DeLay and the beginnings of one of the more remarkable political downfalls in modern U.S. history. Today, everyone wants to know what Tom DeLay knew and when he knew it. And I can't answer those questions.

But I do know that Tom DeLay achieved great things for the Republican majority, the Congress and for the country. He also created great controversy caused in part by his own aggressive nature, in part by his political enemies, and in part by rogue members of his own staff.

The overwhelming majority of DeLay's staffers were professional, honest and working in Congress for the right reasons. But Tom prized the most aggressive staffers and most often heeded their counsel. As it turned out, three of them went over the line, abused the trust of House members and seemingly broke the law. A former hockey player, Tony Rudy was DeLay's enforcer; he wasn't evil, but lacked maturity and would do whatever necessary to protect his patron. Ed Buckham, DeLay's chief of staff, gatekeeper and minister, constantly pushed DeLay to be more radical in his tactics and spun webs of intrigue we are only now beginning to unravel. And Michael Scanlon, who, in my experience, was a first-class rogue and a master of deception.

People like Rudy and Scanlon pleased DeLay because they were always pushing the envelope; only now that the scandal surrounding lobbyist Jack Abramoff is playing out and both are cooperating witnesses for the prosecution are we beginning to learn how far they went. I don't know if Tom always knew what his staff was doing -- I know that I didn't. But I had my suspicions, and now I have seen them borne out.

Feehery then goes about describing specific instances of how Rudy, Buckham, and Scanlon pushed DeLay over the line with their aggressive agenda, all while poor Tom DeLay was being played out by these Machevellian courtiers.

But I have a problem with Freehery's assessment that Tom DeLay is an innocent guy, that Tom DeLay was given the run-around by his crooked staff. Tom DeLay was just as crooked as Rudy, Buckham, and Scanlon. It was Tom DeLay who engineered the redrawing the districts in the Texas state legislature, at the expense of the Democrats, and DeLay was involved in laundering corporate contributions and channeling them towards Texas state races, it was DeLay who engineered the K-Street Project. Mr. Freehery, are you saying that DeLay is innocent of these allegations--that it was really the result of his crooked staff members? Power corrupts. Tom DeLay wanted power--enormous power to make Washington bend to his will, his ideology, his desire. And he found individuals in his staff who were just as power hungry as he was, willing to follow him in their own lust for greed and power.

The lust and greed for power is what brought Tom DeLay down--not by rogue staff members.

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