All of us who make our living inside the Beltway tend to develop pretty thick hides. I know Tom DeLay has one of the thickest. I am also fully aware of the time-honored tradition in a minority party–a “bombs away” attack agenda. The problem I have is the seemingly complete abdication of any independent thought by major media like the New York Times and the Washington Post.
These two venerable newspapers are confirming every Republican suspicion about East Coast media institutions. Coming on the heels of the Dan Rather and CBS News debacle during the presidential campaign, even the most open-minded conservatives begin to detect a trend.
First, let’s get some indisputable facts out on the table. DeLay has been the most effective majority leader of either party in the last half century. Even with the razor-thin margins he has had to work with, when was the last time he lost a vote? His understanding of the intricacies of redistricting is legendary. The only person I know who came close was Rep. John Burton, a liberal Democrat from California whose groundbreaking use of computerized gerrymandering in the 1970s was considered clever and praiseworthy by many of the same voices who condemn DeLay for the same talents. And on a personal note, DeLay is an honorable, compassionate human being who does not deserve the current treatment he gets from much of the media.
As a proud adoptive father myself, I have boundless admiration for Tom and Christine DeLay’s willingness to raise three foster children in their home. I am amazed that he has dedicated so much of his time to neglected and abused children. The special family court in Washington, D.C.–a court that has doubtless saved the lives of many inner city children–would not exist without DeLay. His work in this area earned the praise of the late Mary McGrory, the acerbic liberal columnist for none other than the Washington Post. Would McGrory have been satisfied with the one-sided picture of DeLay now painted by the Post?
Indeed, the Post articles that contain allegations and innuendo about overseas trips and political work by Christine DeLay and Dani DeLay Ferro leave much to be desired. As a co-chairman of the House Ethics Reform Task Force in the late 1990s, I am familiar with both the ethics rules and the FEC regulations at issue. Nothing I have seen so far leads me to believe DeLay–or any of the other members of both parties who went to Korea or London–violated House rules. Nor do I believe allowing a politically talented wife and daughter to work on one’s political campaign is problematic. If I have somehow missed a major rules change, then a number of senators and representatives of both parties should immediately call their lawyers–many of them have wives, sons or daughters in paid roles with their campaigns or political action committees.
Again, while I lament that my Democratic friends in Congress seem to be more intense about personal attacks than offering legitimate legislative alternatives on the issues of the day, I can at least understand their motives and their goals. What I fail to understand–or perhaps what I hate to admit–is the rather blatant, pro-active cooperation in their campaign by the Washington Post and the New York Times.
As now widely reported, I have recent experience with the attack dog mentality at the Times. When a representative of “All the News That’s Fit to Print” called me, the message was immediately obvious. The Times contacted my office fishing for a leading Republican to write a negative op-ed that would call for DeLay’s resignation. When I responded that any op-ed would likely be in defense of DeLay, the response was, “We’ll certainly consider it.” But the clear implication was, “Good luck. It’ll never see the light of day.”
It appears that the press corps has decided that DeLay, for his opinions, his intensity, his effectiveness and his leadership skills, should be the next journalistic scalp in their trophy case.
I can’t blame them for trying. That’s the prerogative of a free press. But this time, they’ve picked a victim without having the evidence to support their case. Barring such evidence, they can’t, and should not win. DeLay will survive and prosper.