DeLay: GOP failing to fight criminalization of politics

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Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay has rejoined the fray, regaining his seat on the American Conservative Union/Conservative Political Action Conference board, taking up the sword against the progressiveism of Democrats and battling what the Texan says is the wimpishness of his fellow Republicans.

Mr. DeLay, 67, still flashes the intensity that was his trademark as one of Congress‘ most feared enforcers. But he insists his fall from power, the humbling experience of being indicted and the relief of being acquitted by a court after an eight-year legal battle have changed him.


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“I used to think I was always right,” he told The Washington Times in his most extensive interview since his acquittal last fall. “You know, power makes you arrogant, if you’re not careful. But, I’ve, I’ve walked with the Lord.”

That’s not to say he has forgotten all of the friends who fled during his crisis. Nor has it dimmed his ambition to return the national debate to smaller government, less spending, less regulation, lower taxes and more adherence to constitutional principles.

The political world once considered him the most powerful man in America after President George W. Bush — until Mr. DeLay left Congress under an ethical cloud in 2006.

Since then, about the most visibility he has had was his stint on the popular television show “Dancing With the Stars,” until three grueling weeks of practice took its toll on his lower limbs and forced him to drop out of the contest.

Getting forced out is nothing new to the former owner of a bug exterminating business in Sugar Land, Texas — still his home.

Mr. DeLay resigned as House majority leader and as an ACU board member in 2005 and did not seek re-election to the House in 2006.

His House Republican colleagues told him not to show his face on Capitol Hill. They feared that Texas District Attorney Ronnie Earl’s accusation that Mr. DeLay was a money-laundering politician would give Republicans a bad name.

Those setbacks and the tribulations that followed, including the $12 million in legal defense fees he incurred, took their toll.

He described his ordeal as “the beginning of criminalization of politics. That’s what [Democrats] do.”

He paused for breath, then turned to his own party.

“The worst part about it is the Republicans won’t do anything about it because they have no backbone,” he said.

A trial judge in Texas convicted Mr. DeLay of violating election laws and handed him a three-year prison sentence. Before the trial began, the Democratic judge had publicly pronounced the former House majority leader guilty as charged, Mr. DeLay said.

Then something happened that Republicans, in their zeal to distance themselves from their former leader, never expected.

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About the Author
Ralph Z. Hallow

Ralph Z. Hallow

Chief political writer Ralph Z. Hallow served on the Chicago Tribune, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Washington Times editorial boards, was Ford Foundation Fellow in Urban Journalism at Northwestern University, resident at Columbia University Editorial-Page Editors Seminar and has filed from Berlin, Bonn, London, Paris, Geneva, Vienna, Amman, Beirut, Cairo, Damascus, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Belgrade, Bucharest, Panama and Guatemala.

 

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