The New York Times editorial board draws the obvious conclusion from Tom Delay’s fall:
The only surprise about Tom DeLay’s decision to finally drop out of the House leadership is that it took so long for Congressional Republicans to realize that they needed to untie that rope from around their collective necks. Mr. DeLay’s welcome decision to abandon his effort to remain the House majority leader came just as his colleagues were circulating a petition calling for his ouster.
But it wasn’t a sudden fit of ethics that seized the House Republicans. It was last week’s guilty plea to corruption charges by Jack Abramoff, the Republican megalobbyist, and fear about which names Mr. Abramoff would drop in cooperating with federal prosecutors. The remaining questions for Mr. DeLay are whether he will be snared by Mr. Abramoff’s net, whether he can beat the other criminal charges pending against him and whether his home district voters will do the rest of the country a favor in November and send Mr. DeLay back to private life.
Republican Congressional leaders are now jousting over whether to support Roy Blunt of Missouri or John Boehner of Ohio for Mr. DeLay’s old job – neither of them likely to be the people’s champion of bipartisanship or ethics. So mired are the Republicans in Mr. Abramoff’s web that Mr. Blunt’s and Mr. Boehner’s first task will be to convince their colleagues that they won’t be the next ones caught up in the scandal.
Of course, as the NY Times notes, any focus on ethics would be more effort than that from the House Ethics Committee under Rep. Richard “Do-Nothing Doc” Hastings’ chairmanship. DeLay installed Hastings not just for his loyalty, but for his well-earned reputation for doing absolutely nothing during his long tenure in Congress. The disgraced DeLay certainly got his money’s worth.
So I’m guessing one of the new majority leader’s first tasks in any effort to restore a perception of congressional ethics will be to dump Hastings from his post. Perhaps 4th CD voters might do the same, if like me, they read the NY Times, and thus understood what a national embarrassment Hastings has been to their district and our state?
Or… perhaps they’d understand this if our local papers actually bothered covering Hastings abject failure as Ethics chair? The Yakima Herald has gently pushed Hastings on ethics issues from time to time, but where’s the booming voice of The Seattle Times, which aspires to be the state’s paper of record? Where’s the editorial chastising Hastings from for his lack of action, or the expose on his ties to DeLay?
Hell… the Seattle Times editorial board once expended precious op/ed space to take a swipe at lowly me. If a political prankster was worthy of an editorial, you’d think a WA congressman embarrassing our state by shutting down the Ethics Committee while the House is in the midst a raging ethics crisis… just maybe might be worthy of a scathing editorial or two, huh?
The “Do-Nothing Doc” deathwatch is on. I suppose the Seattle Times will content itself with covering Hastings ultimate demise as chairman, rather than taking the lead in urging it on.