Where’s the beef?

David Limbaugh writes of Tom DeLay:

At this point — as others have cogently written — it doesn’t seem Mr. DeLay has done anything worthy of ouster as House Leader. He can hardly be crucified for paying family members from campaign funds for legitimate work they did when House rules expressly authorize the practice –it is permitted by congressional regulations. He can hardly be cashiered for a trip to Moscow paid for by the National Center for Public Policy Research, not Russian companies. He can hardly be faulted for a trip to South Korea funded by an organization only very recently registered as a foreign agent, unbeknownst to him. And he can’t be removed because a liberal, politically charged prosecutor indicted three of his former associates, especially when Mr. DeLay himself hasn’t been implicated in the case.

I think Limbaugh is right about this. Given the weakness of the Democratic charges against DeLay, it’s safe to assume that his real offense is his effectiveness in advancing his party’s agenda and his role in the Texas redistricting that cost several senior Democrats their office. These, or course, are reasons why Republicans, including President Bush, should strongly support DeLay on the current record.
UPDATE: Jeffrey Bell in the Weekly Standard makes the same point more forcefully and precisely than I did:

The truth is that Tom DeLay is a special target because he is the first legislative power broker to be an authentic Red State conservative. . . .DeLay is the most important of a small but growing group of conservative leaders who are willing and able to operate without permission or praise from Blue State media. . . .Hastert, DeLay, and their allies have maintained unbroken operational control of the House, never losing a significant floor vote in the four-plus years since Bush became president. . . .If DeLay goes down because of overseas trips and/or fundraising practices that have never caused the slightest political problem for anyone else, the lesson to other Red State leaders will be clear. The four-year House winning streak, so widely taken for granted among conservatives, will not long survive DeLay. That is why Democrats and Blue State media (despite some half-hearted efforts to depict DeLay as a GOP albatross) so fervently desire his career to end as soon as possible.


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