21 Nov 2004 Power Line: ‘DeLay Rule’ a Good Thing
Critics of the House GOP rule change, it seems to me, are putting more faith in the judgment of prosecutors (any prosecutor) than in the House GOP caucus.
I know it is fashionable to deride Congress, but I still prefer to be governed by an elected body.
Political philosophy aside, I believe critics also are misjudging the, to use an overworn phrase, situation on the ground.
Professor Bainbridge, for example, believes GOP caucus members would be unwilling to vote Tom DeLay out of his leadership position, apparently even if a credible indictment were to be handed down. I read the dynamics of the House entirely differently. (Members wake up every morning with the Washington Post front page, not with — however much they may like him — Tom DeLay.) I also believe they would not have to. If a credible indictment occurred against Tom DeLay, I believe he would voluntarily surrender his leadership position.
Let’s remember (as some who send me emails apparently don’t realize) that Tom DeLay has not been indicted. The caucus is responding to the possibility of an irresponsible indictment by a prosecutor who is perceived to be acting as a rogue agent. The caucus is quite properly refusing to be dictated to by someone whose professional judgment it does not believe it has reason to respect.
I do agree with Blogs for Industry that the new rule isn’t quite what it should be (I don’t agree with Blogs for Industry’s opinion of Tom DeLay). Like Blogs for Industry, I would prefer a mandatory vote of the entire caucus to a vote of the Republican Steering Committee. But I don’t want to overstress this, as I think the Steering Committee would tend to reflect the views of the members. I also think that most cases of indictment have facts that are far more cut and dried than in this hypothetical indictment, in which it is assumed that there would not only be doubt of guilt, but even that a crime took place at all.
Finally, Professor Bainbridge has opined that right-leaning bloggers “have lots of incentives to stay on the reservation. Inauguration balls. CNN and Fox News appearances. And so on…” The incentives implication is misplaced. There’s the little matter of integrity, for one thing. However, even if we folks on the pro-rule change side didn’t have any of that, as a practical matter, inauguration tickets and TV bookings just aren’t being affected by this rule change. Emotions aren’t running that high on this matter on the Hill. Even if they were, inaugural tickets and TV bookings aren’t Congressmen’s weapons of choice.