January 26, 2006

George Will on DeLay

George Will came down to Houston and files this column:

Out here, where the tendrils of Houston's growing exurbs reach for open ground, sits Rio Bend, a cluster of new houses and other facilities for parents having difficult times with troubled foster children -- difficulties like those Tom and Christine DeLay experienced with several teenagers they took into their home. Rio Bend was built by the DeLays, with help from friends, of sorts.

She, an acerbic realist from south Texas, says more houses are planned by their charitable organization, but: "I hated to lose the leadership position because it helps me to raise money for those kids." Note her agreeably guileless acknowledgment that some friends of Rio Bend may not have been seized by simple altruism. She shares her husband's credo -- power is useful and should be used -- and knows the moral ambiguities it can involve.


Earmarks? Although recently "they got out of hand," they are, he says, necessary and proper because it is best to have spending dictated by a politician who knows his district's needs: "We are an equal branch of government -- why should we let a bureaucrat decide?" He says that in a state such as Illinois, which is dominated by Democrats "who play hardball," earmarks are the only way even House Speaker Dennis Hastert can get highway money spent in his district.


Referring to his trial on campaign finance charges brought by a notoriously political Democratic prosecutor, DeLay says, with a confidence that might be misplaced but clearly is unfeigned, "I'll be acquitted by the end of April." Then he says he will secure a 12th term, winning "the most expensive congressional race ever ." The national Democratic Party and several liberal groups -- already running ads and phone banks -- spend, well, liberally.

Because undecided voters are thin here -- he estimates they are about 13 percent of the district -- this election will be about mobilizing the faithful. So the piling on by his critics -- their wretched excesses in response to what they perceive to be his -- may help him.
No question that the DeLay campaign wants a polarized partisan race, because if this race is about Republicans vs. Democrats, then DeLay wins.

One thing I snipped was Will's statement that redistricting "ma[de] [DeLay's] district more Democratic in order to make others less so." A more precise statement is here. The district only got a few points more Democratic.

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