- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 18, 2005

Texas redistricting efforts by former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and related decisions by the Justice Department have kept the New York Times editorial page editor busy with not one but two editorials.

On Dec. 5, the NYT accused the Bush administration of turning the Justice Department into “a campaign branch office,” evidently forgetting that John F. Kennedy arguably stole Texas and Illinois (and thus the presidency) in the 1960 election and then appointed his as attorney general his brother, who served as his campaign manager. Because the Bush Justice Department approved the 2003 Texas redistricting plan, which has twice been subsequently upheld by a special three-judge federal panel in Texas, the NYT attacked the Justice Department for violating “the sacred Voting Rights Act.”

A couple of historical footnotes are in order. For example, that the Voting Rights Act was passed in 1965 with Republican support that was significantly higher than Democratic support in both the House and the Senate, where, by the way, Sen. Robert Byrd voted “nay.” In addition, after filibustering the 1964 Civil Rights Act and then voting against it, former Vice President Al Gore’s father finally joined 97 percent of the Republican senators who voted for the Voting Rights Act the next year, compared to less than 75 percent of Democratic senators.

Reviewing Republican redistricting efforts in Texas, the NYT editorial page sneered: “The idea that the winners should trash the system to make sure the democratic process ended with them was discredited back around the time of the Bolsheviks.”

On Dec. 9, the NYT accused Mr. DeLay of “bulldoz[ing] the gerrymandering [redistricting plan] through the [Texas] Statehouse,” in the process effectively conspiring with the Justice Department in the commitment of “political hubris on a national scale, directed at the heart of democracy.”

For the record, it must be repeated that Republicans have steadily built over the past four-and-a-half decades what has finally evolved into an extraordinarily large majority party in Texas. (Ironically, the GOP effort began in 1961 in a special Senate election won by Republican John Tower to replace newly elected Vice President Lyndon Johnson.)

In 1998, Republicans demonstrated their statewide appeal by re-electing George W. Bush as governor and by simultaneously capturing control of 100 percent of the Texas’ 27 statewide elective offices. Nevertheless, an incumbent-protecting, gerrymandered redistricting process following the 2000 census predictably produced a 17-15 Democratic majority in Texas’ delegation to the U.S. House in the 2002 elections, despite the fact that Republican candidates cumulatively received 21 percent more votes than their Democratic opponents. During the same election, Republicans finally gained control of the state House (88-62), after which the GOP pushed through a redistricting plan that produced results in the 2004 U.S. House elections that far more closely mirrored the political sentiments of Texans.

Republican candidates achieved their majority status in the Texas delegation to the House by cumulatively receiving 48 percent more votes than Democrats in the 2004 elections (4 million votes vs. 2.7 million votes). It is simply wrong to compare such a development to the actions of Bolsheviks aimed at the heart of democracy.

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