DeLay Indictment Big Trouble for Bush

WASHINGTON, D.C.—House Majority Leader Tom DeLay’s indictment Wednesday for conspiracy to violate fundraising laws puts President Bush’s ability to govern in some jeopardy. DeLay, of Texas, stepped down from his leadership role and is now out of the picture until his trial. Depending how the polls go, he may be just too much of a liability and be forced to resign.

Without DeLay, the conservative Republicans in the House have lost their most aggressive advocate in the congressional leadership. DeLay is what some view as a , both a vigorous ally of Israel and a rallying point for the right-wing Christians who are a power base for Bush’s presidency.

The rest of the Republican leaders look like Munchkins compared to DeLay. Dennis Hastert, of Illinois, is House Speaker in name only. DeLay has been a powerhouse, not just articulating the right-wing viewpoint, but hammering it home on issues and clearing more space for Bush and his agenda in areas where others would fear to tread.


Bush’s bumbling of the hurricanes, gasoline prices, and the Iraqi war, have left people wondering whether he can run the country. Once perceived as a smart rich frat boy, he is beginning to be seen as a dumb rich kid. Still, in the one areas that counts for his right-wing Christian voters, that of faith, his truthfulness is unquestioned.

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In yesterday’s hearings into the disaster of the government response to Hurricane Katrina, Republicans vigorously attacked the disgraced FEMA leader Michael Brown as being a nincompoop. The latest news from New Orleans—that city officials left hundreds of inmates in the downtown jail where, locked in their cells with no way out, they faced a cruel death by slowly drowning in the rising water—makes the federal government’s inability to immediately take hold of the chaotic situation look even worse. Efforts by the right-wing spin masters to portray the city as being in the grips of gangs of rapists, looters and hoodlums, have turned out to be untrue. All those people supposedly dying at the Superdome are now reported to have numbered six.

Yesterday Bush was telling people to curtail driving to save on gas, advice that came in the face of a steady drumbeat of news about the growing surplus of oil. The Saudis keep on keeping on promising to up production while a growing chorus of critics say they have rigged their reserve figures and have much less oil than they claim. Saudi Arabia announced that will add to the glut by producing more crude. As the president urges everyone to slow up driving, he does nothing to investigate exorbitant oil company profits. He shows no inclination to investigate charges of rigged gasoline prices.

DeLay says he is innocent of all charges in the criminal indictment. But he has other problems. His relationship with lobbyist Jack Abramoff have been in the news recently. Another controversy centers around the alleged granting of legislative favors to Westar Energy in exchange for a $25,000 contribution to a political action committee.

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