Friday, April 08, 2005

For many Republicans (and for all I know, a few Democrats), what we disliked about Clinton was the general sleaziness of his Administration. Sure, there were many who disliked his policies. And there were those who disliked him because he made Republicans look silly way too many times (although they certainly helped in that regard).

But what bothered me the most about Clinton was the "because I could" attitude he brought to the White House. He screwed around with Lewinsky because he could. He held air traffic at LAX to get his haircut because he could. He rented out the Lincoln Bedroom to contributors because he could.

Even setting aside the question of whether what he did was illegal, it bothered me because I expect our leaders to adhere to a pretty high standard.... to not to use their office as a means of enriching themselves and otherwise helping themselves to the cookie jar. Clinton failed to meet that standard... and, as such, I deemed him worthless.

I also become disenchanted with his enablers and apologists. Whether it was to keep their jobs in a Democratic Administration, to get themselves on the nightly cable talk shows or to keep the GOP at bay, otherwise good people looked the other way. Not one member of Clinton's administration ever quit out of principle over his actions. Not one Democratic member of Congress ever did more than issue a mild rebuke (yes, this is all Lieberman did). They all sold their souls for the price of keeping a Democrat in the White House.. and everyone of them got dirty as a result.

Well, as Yogi said, it's deja vu all over again, but this time with Tom DeLay, the House Majority Leader. No, he's not the President, but he is someone in a leadership position who is failing miserably at meeting the standards one expects our elected leaders to meet. Whether it is steering dollars to family members or taking junkets paid for by those seeking government favors, DeLay has revealed himself to be nothing more than a hack using his office in order to enrich himself.

As with Clinton, it doesn't - and shouldn't - matter if what DeLay did was illegal. It was wrong. You're not supposed to take trips from people looking for favors (as I've posted earlier, I've fired people for doing just that). You're not supposed to put your family on the payroll. You're supposed to use the power of your office to make America's life easier, not your own.

The question is whether Republicans will turn a blind eye to his misdeeds, whether they will do for DeLay what the Democrats did for Clinton. Will they stand by him because they can't stand to see the Democrats 'win'? Or will they move him aside because it is the right thing to do?

Right now, it doesn't look like the GOP will do the right thing. Like the Democrats did with Clinton, the GOP is rallying around DeLay.

For me, it's simple. DeLay must step aside. If he doesn't, then the Bush Administration and Hastert have to push him aside. If they don't, then they deserve to lose every election for years to come. For they will have shown themselves to be no different than the Democrats...

UPDATE: Slate has a reasonably good scorecard of DeLay's troubles.

UPDATE II: I've posted in response to those who seem (forgive me if I'm wrong) to excuse DeLay because of who it is bringing the charges. The Democrats aren't bringing charges out of any new-found love for good government. Nor is their behavior much different than what DeLay is doing. But it doesn't matter! What matters is whether we in the GOP have the guts and the principles to stand up and say that what DeLay did is wrong and that we don't want such a person in a position of leadership.