And they call this the ETHICS COMMITTEE

From today's Washington Post:

"House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert is leaning toward removing the House ethics committee chairman, who admonished House Majority Leader Tom DeLay this fall and has said he will treat DeLay like any other member, several Republican aides said yesterday."

Yes, you read that right. Dennis Hastert, Speaker of the House, third highest-ranking member of the government, is planning to remove the chairman of the House ethics committee because he has announced his willingness to treat House Majority Leader Tom DeLay like any other member of Congress. Just gnaw on that for a minute. Let the words roll around in your mouth before you try to choke them down. The chairman of the House ethics committee is going to lose his job because he refuses to show favoritism to Tom DeLay. And the source of this flabbergasting revelation? REPUBLICAN aides. This isn't some conspiracy cooked up by Democrats, although, as the Post article points out, these same Republican aides acknowledge that, "the stated reason for Hefley's removal is likely to be that it is time for him to rotate off the committee after serving as chairman since January 2001."

Well, OK. Just for the sake of argument, let's assume that this isn't simply self-serving retribution for chairman Joel Hefley's (R-CO) refusal to handle DeLay with kid gloves. Let's consider the possibility that this isn't a Republican-engineered maneuver designed to maintain DeLay's leadership position in spite of the Texas grand jury indictment hanging over his head. Let's give Hastert the benefit of the doubt, because he's just got to be smart enough to realize that this move smacks of corruption, right? Think again. According to the Post, the likely replacement for Hefley is Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX). Smith is not only a fellow Texan, and therefore part of the DeLay political machine, but he actually made a financial contribution to DeLay's defense fund last year. Moreover, Smith held the ethics committee chairmanship from 1999 to 2001, immediately prior to Hefley's term, throwing the whole time for a rotation justification into serious doubt (one typically thinks of a rotation as involving more than two people). In other words, Hastert isn't even trying to make this move seem like anything other than what it really is: blatant, shameless cronyism. You can pretend otherwise, but you're only fooling yourself if you believe this isn't political chicanery of the worst kind.

The really depressing part of all this is that Republicans are no longer even bothering to conceal their shenanigans. There was a time when self-respecting politicians of all stripes at least tried to maintain the illusion of propriety. Not anymore. Now, it's anything goes, and everything does. How much longer before they're whacking their political enemies mafia-style on the steps of the Capitol building? Tom DeLay is a brute and a thug, Dennis Hastert is his boot-licking toady, and they don't care who knows it. They are definitely men of the times.


Blogger Silver Zephyr said...

I read your blog today. So ha.
Did you know there's something called "The Tom DeLay Rule"? Congressional Republicans changed the rules to allow him to continue to serve even though under indictment.

8:30 PM  

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