Tom DeLay's long (& overdue) good-by

Tuesday, April 04, 2006 at 06:31 PM

So Tom Delay announces his intent to resign from Congress.  Effective at some undetermined time before mid-June.

In many ways, he's been saying good-by for some time, starting with when he got indicted in Texas, and continuing through his loss of House support that forced him to step down as House majority leader.  You could make an argument that anyone that unethical and that vicious has probably been saying good-by since the day he arrived, because those traits will eventually do you in.

What we won't know for some time is whether this is good-by to DeLay or good-by to what DeLay represents.

Of course, DeLay leaves with insistent protestations of his innocence.  In fact, he went so far as to claim that: "I have always served honorably and ethically. I've never broken the law or the spirit of the law or even a House rule."

And, of course, in DeLay-land, it is not he who is corrupt, but those nasty liberal democrats, saying in his address to his constituents:

...I refuse to allow liberal Democrats an opportunity to steal this seat with a negative, personal campaign....A Democrat Congress in 2007 would, without doubt or remorse, raise hundreds of billions of dollars in taxes, summarily cut and run from the war on terror, and immediately initiate an unconstitutional impeachment of President Bush.

In fact, he predicted that Democrats would become a "permanent minority" party, due to their "strategy of personal destruction and character assassination."

I'll always be glad for the absence of someone like Mr. DeLay from the congress, but isn't resigning an odd thing for him to do, having fought and won a primary just a month ago for the right to stand for office again?

Yes and no.

Yes, it would be if Tom DeLay lived in the normal world where things are what they seem, or was a basically honest man.  No, it isn't if you live where DeLay does, and have his sense of ethics that equates his self-interest with "right" and "good."

There are several possible reasons that DeLay went through the primary fight first:

  1. He went through the primary before his ex-aide, Tony Rudy, pleaded guilty last week.  This theory says that Rudy has knowledge of DeLay's activities that even someone with DeLay's monumental ego recognizes as insurmountable.  DeLay's attorney has denied this.

  2. He stoked up his base, got lots of contributions for both the primary and the upcoming general election, in order to stock up on campaign funds that reportedly can simply be converted over to his legal defense fund (contributions to which had dropped off late in 2005).

  3. DeLay's reelection race was reportedly expected to be extremely expensive; running the primary allowed DeLay to build up a fund while his resignation will save the GOP mightily when it comes to the general election.

  4. Recognition that he could win a Republican primary, where his core supporters could make the difference, but was unlikely to beat Nick Lampson, his Democratic opponent in a general election with a broader voter base.

  5. Behind the scenes pressure from fellow Republicans who now view his very presence on the national scene as threatening to their own survival (optimists can wonder if many Republicans had hoped he would lose the primary and avoid the need to tell him to get lost).

  6. It is apparently possible that resigning far enough before the general election would allow the Republican Governor to call a special election.  A Republican is presumably better situated to win that abbreviated campaign, given the heavily Republican nature of the district.