Hammer Time

Yes, Tom DeLay is wretched. But does he deserve to be brought down by gotcha ethics laws?

LIVE BY THE HAMMER, die by the hammer: Tom DeLay had it coming. He flaunts his disdain for ethical proprieties. He lacks even a scintilla of self-restraint; not content with merely defeating his enemies, he wants to destroy them. And so he led the Republican drive to impeach Bill Clinton and, more recently, advocated the same remedy to rid the federal bench of judges whose rulings he disagreed with. One does not have to look the other way at Clinton’s dalliances or agree with those judicial rulings to appreciate the harm that DeLay’s zealotry could have done to the American political system.

Lest any ambiguity remain about my opinion of the defrocked majority leader of the U.S. House of Representatives—who faces two felony indictments, one for conspiring to facilitate the use of illegal corporate contributions in political campaigns and another for money laundering and conspiracy to commit money laundering—I will adopt as my own the viewpoint a friend expressed to me in an e-mail: “DeLay calls [Travis County district attorney Ronnie] Earle ‘an unabashed partisan zealot’ who engages in ‘blatant political partisanship.’ This from the lips of an unabashed partisan zealot who has founded his whole career on blatant political partisanship.

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