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.

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

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
in exchange for a $25,000 contribution to a
political action committee.