Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Delay Retreat

The Moose observes that House elephants are becoming nervous about their Leader.

The fact that the House GOP Leadership decided to nix a couple of the DeLay Preservation Rules is a testimony to their defensiveness about the Exterminator in Chief. This is not a majority that is entirely confident in its position. Clearly, the odor of corruption emanating from DeLay and Ney is troubling to many of their Republican colleagues.

That does not mean that this was a complete victory for the good guys. First, it appears likely that independent Ethics Committee Chair Hefley will be replaced with a new Chair who will be subservient to the Republican leadership.

And as the Washington Post editorializes this morning about a rule change that was adopted,

"The rules change -- magnificently mislabeled the "restore presumption of innocence" provision -- would require that an ethics complaint be dropped unless there is bipartisan agreement to proceed. "Presumption of indolence" might be a more appropriate term. Under the previous rules, if the chairman and ranking member couldn't agree on how to handle a complaint, it would be assigned to an investigative subcommittee or it would at least linger on the committee agenda. Now the complaint would be dismissed.

This change is as unnecessary as it is unwise. It's not as if the ethics committee has been inundated with complaints. House rules bar filings from outside groups; only a member can file a complaint, and the committee ominously warned lawmakers last year that they make such accusations at the risk of being hauled up on ethics charges themselves. Moreover, unlike other House panels, the ethics committee contains equal numbers of Republicans and Democrats, so ultimately no action is taken without some bipartisan agreement. Insisting on such agreement before an investigation can even begin, however, is a recipe for inactivity. Which may be precisely why the House leadership cooked it up in the first place."

This entire episode should be instructive to Democrats. Ethics is to the "party of morality" what garlic is to vampires. Ironically, the ethically-challenged Republicans gained control over Congress, in part, as a result of Gingrich's relentless ethics attack on the entrenched Democratic leadership.

The Moose avers “What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.”
-- Posted at 10:18 AM | Link to this post | Email this post