Monday, March 14, 2005

When Does Tom DeLay Become A Liability?

And perhaps more importantly, who makes that call?

Despite the continuing ethics problems, summarized in this front page Washington Post story, Tom DeLay appears to have a great reservoir of support among the GOP House members. But even more important than their "support" is that fact that there does not appear to be a rival faction waiting to seize upon his stumbles.

In 1998, the knives where out for Newt Gingrich, and when the opportunity arose, he was taken out by his own party. But the writing about that coup had been on the wall for a while. Gingrich had already put down at least one revolt, and there was a permanent camp of GOP Representatives that was against him (or at least not for him.)

I don't see the same situation here in 2005. DeLay was able to purge the only real threat to him, when he "retired" half of the GOP members of the Ethics Committee, and replaced them with loyalists. His position seems pretty secure, despite the hopes of the opposition.

But his security may ultimately be more advantageous to the Democrats. Because he is secure there is no one to take him down when he becomes a burden on the party. He will help drag the party down with him, long after he should have been jettisoned.

Ultimately it may be up to the WH to tell DeLay when enough is enough, but that day is not soon in coming. The Texas connection, as well as, the power that DeLay has shown in lining up the House to support the Bush agenda, will cause hesitation in pulling the trigger. In the meantime, expect continuing press coverage of the DeLay scandals along with a corresponding fall of the GOP's standing among the public.

Sometimes rivalry is important for political parties. Tom DeLay may be the example of why this is so.