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"It is better to be drunk with loss and to beat the ground, than to let the deeper things gradually escape."

- I. Compton-Burnett, letter to Francis King (1969)

"Cynical realism – it is the intelligent man’s best excuse for doing nothing in an intolerable situation."

- Aldous Huxley, "Time Must Have a Stop"

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Tuesday, 4 April 2006
Instant Oblivion, Texas Style
Topic: NOW WHAT?

Instant Oblivion, Texas Style

Thoughts for the day -

"A stupid man's report of what a clever man says can never be accurate, because he unconsciously translates what he hears into something he can understand." - Bertrand Russell

"I never know how much of what I say is true." - Bette Midler

Well, he's gone. Tom Delay. How odd. The news broke Monday the 3rd, as he decided to tell Tweety Bird, which would be Chris Matthews, the hyperactive (near-manic) talk show host on MSNBC, and gave Time Magazine an exclusive interview.

Knight-Ridder follows up -
Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay on Tuesday voluntarily relinquished his hold on the House seat that he has held for 21 years, dismantling a political career that was laced with conservative triumphs but ultimately overshadowed by scandal.

In a televised statement to constituents, the Houston-area lawmaker announced his intentions to resign as representative of the 22nd congressional district, abruptly ending his re-election campaign against Democratic challenger Nick Lampson.

"I have no regrets today and no doubts," said DeLay, a Republican from Sugar Land in Fort Bend County, Texas. "I am proud of the past. I am at peace with the present, and I'm excited about the future."

The resignation, which is expected to take effect in late May or early June, comes amid a burgeoning scandal around disgraced former lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who had close ties to DeLay's leadership office. Two former DeLay aides have pleaded guilty to corruption charges growing out of the Abramoff investigation.

DeLay, who also remains under indictment in Travis County, Texas, on money-laundering charges, repeated previous assertions that he has committed no wrongdoing but said that he was withdrawing from his re-election bid because the contest had become "a referendum on me."
Whatever. As Jack Cafferty said to Wolf Blitzer on CNN's Situation Room - "Wolf all the tough talk was reduced to, 'I quit!' To borrow a phrase from Roberto Duran, 'No Mas.' Mr. Delay suddenly became another disgraced public servant who couldn't take the heat. He would strut around on capitol hill like a cocky little, bandy rooster, but today he slithered away from Congress..." (See the CNN video here.)

And midday Tuesday this was in the email bin -
Subject: Since you've linked to me before -

For which I'm grateful. I send along my latest on Tom DeLay:

John Dickerson
Chief Political Correspondent
Slate Magazine
His phone numbers were also appended, but you don't want to call him, do you? In any event Exterminate Thyself: Decoding Tom DeLay's Exit Interview, is just fine, if you want to read an excellent analysis of self-righteous whining. But it's over.

On the other hand, this paragraph leaps out -
Jesus is my political strategist. After he was indicted on conspiracy and money-laundering charges, DeLay smiled like a choirboy for his mug shot. The move was a political masterstroke since the picture looked better than many of his official photographs. But DeLay explains that his smile wasn't motivated by politics at all. He was wrapped in Christ. "I said a little prayer before I actually did the fingerprint thing, and the picture. And my prayer was basically: 'Let people see Christ through me. And let me smile.' Now, when they took the shot, from my side, I thought it was the fakiest smile I'd ever given. But through the camera, it was glowing. I mean, it had the right impact." So, the impact of the picture was that people would see the humility, forgiveness and generosity of Christ? Perhaps, but DeLay explains that by "right impact," he means the picture allowed him to shove it in his opponent's kazoo. "Poor old left couldn't use [the picture] at all. They had all kind of things planned, they'd spent a lot of money. It made me feel kind of good that all those plans went down the toilet." Usually when Christ and the commode are used in back-to-back sentences, social conservatives mount a protest.
They didn't. He's their man. There was that late March thing, radio commentator Rick Scarborough convened a two-day conference in Washington on the "War on Christians and the Values Voters in 2006." As noted last week, DeLay was a keynote speaker and Tony Perkins was on television saying Delay had been charged and indicted because he was too Christian for evil people who run the country and want to destroy Christianity. Many of us have no idea who these people are, but the idea is they're everywhere. Drop a line if you find any such people.

But as the Washington Post noted, this Christian Right leader Rick Scarborough said DeLay was a real martyr and "God always does his best work right after a crucifixion." (You could look it up here. The Post here notes that earlier Scarborough had told the Family Research Council last year that attacks on DeLay were actually "a huge, nationwide, concerted effort to destroy everything we believe in."

You see how this is shaping up - a noble warrior has lost the battle but the war goes on.

There are histories of his rise and fall all over the press and the net, with speculation and what's next for the guy. Lobbying for the Christian Right? Being "the man behind" American conservatism pulling the strings? Who knows?

Note this from Andrew Sullivan -
Tom DeLay's resignation from elective politics, barely a year and a half after the triumphant Republican re-election campaign of 2004, is a remarkable fall from grace. It happened because the bankruptcy of contemporary Republicanism is increasingly unmissable. And it happened because of obvious corruption, sleaze and a complete lack of broad public appeal. DeLay's skills were not retail; they were back-door: the schemes and deals and handshakes that are inextricable from effective government but not pretty in daylight. DeLay took that ruthlessness too far, got exposed, and now fairly taints the GOP's broad national image. It's probably good news for the Republicans in the short term. They get some time to distance themselves from the architect of their Congressional hegemony. But he was the architect, as integral to contemporary Republicanism as Karl Rove; and the product of the same Southern/Texan Christianist movement that has turned the Republican party into a religious sect, with some business interests along for the ride.
That'll do. And although you get things like this - DeLay's Retirement Good News for House GOP - the question is, having shed this albatross, will the American public decide the Republicans have cleaned up their act and they are the party, now, of clean government?

Probably not. And too, this was the man who rode herd on the House voting a got the president's work done - the tax cuts, the Medicare prescription program in its pro-pharmaceutical form and all the other legislation. Who will be there to twist arms, to threaten, to hold out "inducements" and all the rest? The hammer is gone.

What just happened is a major political event, and why it happened and what it shows is all over the media. Not here.

What's next? Too much is going on to be concerned with this guy. The left may gloat, and the right be sad, or angry, or contemplative or anything at all. It doesn't matter.

Think about the big shot at work who leaves the company or retires. You have a nice lunch and folks say a few things, and an hour later you're back at your desk dealing with the next crisis and he's forgotten. There's work to do. And within a day or two it's as if he never existed.

Move on.

There are big things afoot.

Kevin Drum at the Washington Monthly has some finds.

See Fool Me Twice by Joseph Cirincione in Foreign Policy (registration required). It contains this - "For months, I have told interviewers that no senior political or military official was seriously considering a military attack on Iran. In the last few weeks, I have changed my view. In part, this shift was triggered by colleagues with close ties to the Pentagon and the executive branch who have convinced me that some senior officials have already made up their minds: They want to hit Iran."

And the Brits are aboard, pretty much, as the Telegraph (UK) reports here -
It is believed that an American-led attack, designed to destroy Iran's ability to develop a nuclear bomb, is "inevitable" if Teheran's leaders fail to comply with United Nations demands to freeze their uranium enrichment programme.

... A senior Foreign Office source said... "If Iran makes another strategic mistake, such as ignoring demands by the UN or future resolutions, then the thinking among the chiefs is that military action could be taken to bring an end to the crisis. The belief in some areas of Whitehall is that an attack is now all but inevitable."

When that first appeared in the Telegraph you might have dismissed it. The UK papers are full of "advocacy journalism" - solid facts but presented to make a point. And the Telegraph used to be Conrad Black's paper, the Canadian right-wing nut, buddies with Richard Perle and that crowd (see Lord Black And His Pearl from December 28, 2003), so perhaps this is just wishful thinking. But Lord Black is long gone from that British paper, sued six ways from Sunday for using his press holdings as a personal piggy bank. And who knows where the paper stands now? But Foreign Policy too?

Drum - "There's no question that the administration is already preparing the ground for an air strike on Iran, but it's likely that the real push won't come until late summer when it can be used as a cudgel in the midterm elections. Same song, new verse."

Like Tom DeLay matters now?

A new war? A chance for a regional war? A chance to further enrage the nations of the Middle East? Cool.

And the war we've got going is going so well, as Associated Press reports here late on the 4th - "BAGHDAD, Iraq - An Iraqi vice president called Tuesday for the embattled Shiite prime minister to step aside so a new government can be formed, becoming the most senior Shiite official publicly to endorse demands for a leadership change to halt the slide toward civil war."

Earlier in the Guardian (UK) there was this - "Iraq's embattled prime minister has defiantly refused to give up his claim to head the country's next government... In an exclusive interview with the Guardian in Baghdad - his first since Condoleezza Rice and Jack Straw pleaded with him and his rivals for an immediate agreement to prevent a slide to civil war - Ibrahim Jaafari insisted he would continue to carry out his duties."

Current US casualty count 2,343 dead, for this.

Last week Newt Gingrich had a suggestion for a simple slogan the Democrats could use to sweep to power - "Had enough?"

Maybe. The New York Times on Wednesday, April 5, prints this, an op-ed item by John Kerry -
So far, Iraqi leaders have responded only to deadlines - a deadline to transfer authority to a provisional government, and a deadline to hold three elections.

Now we must set another deadline to extricate our troops and get Iraq up on its own two feet.

Iraqi politicians should be told that they have until May 15 to put together an effective unity government or we will immediately withdraw our military. If Iraqis aren't willing to build a unity government in the five months since the election, they're probably not willing to build one at all. The civil war will only get worse, and we will have no choice anyway but to leave.

If Iraq's leaders succeed in putting together a government, then we must agree on another deadline: a schedule for withdrawing American combat forces by year's end. Doing so will empower the new Iraqi leadership, put Iraqis in the position of running their own country and undermine support for the insurgency, which is fueled in large measure by the majority of Iraqis who want us to leave their country. Only troops essential to finishing the job of training Iraqi forces should remain.
The item carries the title, "Two Deadlines and an Exit" - straightforward, and the sort of "tough love" the Republican moralists like Bill Bennett love to chat up. Get your act together or we're outta there now. And if you do get your act together, we're out at the end of the year. Enough is enough. Grow up.

Well, it's more of a plan than the administration has ever presented, even if not in PowerPoint. The administration's plan is to win, but they cannot or will not define what winning would look like.

This? Winning is getting a stable government in place there, an elected one and something like a democracy of sorts. So get it done, and if you can't, we're not picking sides in a multi-decade civil war, just for the fun of it. Kerry took Gingrich to heart.

So the president says we'll be there until we "win" - and no one knows what that even means any longer. And Kerry says "whatever" and presents this, what some might think a competent leader might propose, something concrete and says we're not going to be jerked around any longer. And it turns the tables on the president, who now looks weak and trapped by the feuding factions who are fighting for power in Iraq, pretty much ignoring what the administration wants. Who has the brass balls now?

Well, the ridicule of Kerry will start anew, exposing him again as an opportunistic coward in Vietnam, not the jet fighter ace that Bush was in the same war. We'll see if that works again.

But with Iran to bomb if not invade and occupy, and Iraq without a government and too inward-turned and self-absorbed to care what the United States wants, or even says, the fall of Tom DeLay already seems, twenty-four hours out, a curious footnote to history.

Kerry has nothing to say about DeLay. What would be the point? There's work to do, and things to fix.

It was a science story that ran late on April fourth, as the Kerry plan hit the wires, and not a political story about Tom DeLay at all, but someone has a sense of humor over at Associated Press with this - New Dinosaur Resembles Large Turkey - "Fossils discovered in southern Utah are from a new species of birdlike dinosaur that resembled a 7-foot-tall brightly colored turkey and could run up to 25 mph..."

Hagryphus giganteus? That's the name, not Tom DeLay.

Posted by Alan at 22:33 PDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Wednesday, 5 April 2006 07:33 PDT home

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