April 7, 2005
Yesterday's Washington Post had another article on Tom DeLay, accusing him of taking money from lobbyists to pay for a trip to Russia in 1997. Earlier reports made similar allegations about his trips to Great Britain in 2000 and South Korea in 2001. I have high regard for journalistic integrity at the Post, whose news reporting is not nearly as subject to editorial bias as the New York Times or CBS News. Yet all the recent negative stories about DeLay do make one wonder whether there just might be some political agenda behind it. Remember how the Democrats' allies in the press forced Newt Gingrich to retire as House Speaker over that stupid book deal? There are a lot of similarities between these two cases in terms of gruff personalities and how each man brought problems upon himself, but DeLay is not strongly identified with any particular reform campaign, as Newt was. DeLay has denounced the attacks as part of a campaign to cripple the conservative movement, and there may be some truth to that, but a biased press does not excuse a party leader from poor judgment that reflects poorly upon his or her party. Anyone who remembers the "Keating 7" savings and loan scandal (all the guilty congressmen were Democrats except for John McCain) or the Jim Wright book deal scandal of the late 1980s should know how important it is to maintain high ethical standards. Some Republicans in Congress are rallying behind DeLay, but I will wait and see. Based on what I know right now, however, I don't think he's worth defending. President Bush will be much more likely to overcome skeptics and get something passed on Social Security reform this year if he is not burdened with the baggage of more Tom DeLay scandals.