When the future King David first hears about the death of his beloved friend, Jonathan, in battle he poignantly keens: Aich naflu giborim (“how the mighty have fallen”). Tom DeLay certainly doesn’t merit heroic status, but certainly mediocre status, perhaps even monstrous status. And to be candid, he’s not fully fallen yet. To paraphrase Churchill: it’s not the end, but perhaps the beginning of the end. We’ll have to leave Tom’s future up to himself and the prosecutorial skills of Ronnie Earle.
After the deeply depressing 2004 presidential election I blogged (in Hubris: Why Bush Will Fail) that the only silver lining I could see was that Bush and the Republicans would have to overreach:
It is an act of supreme optimism on the day after such a dismal election, when hope is in tatters and the Republicans have tightened their grip on the levers of power, to think of a future rise of the prospects of the Democratic party. But we should remember that every party goes through long cycles of being out of power; of seeming to be out of favor or out of touch with the electorate. Indeed, this election seems an especially stinging rejection. But this will not last forever.
I think that George Bush, Karl Rove and Tom DeLay will actually help bring that day closer by overreaching. Their hubris in this apparently sweeping victory will, as it did with Newt Gingrich and his Contract with America fiasco, cause them to propose a sweeping, stridently right wing political-social agenda: abolition of the estate tax, new tax cuts, privatizing social security, hard-right Supreme Court candidates, etc. They think this is a mandate. But if the Democrats remaining in the Senate and House can play their cards right (and admittedly they don’t have many good ones in their hand), the Republicans will overplay theirs. It is especially important that Democrats prosecute the campaign against Tom DeLay’s ethical and legal lapses vigorously. That is one of the biggest current chinks in their armor.
It was simply in their political nature and DNA for their reach to exceed their grasp. And when they did (as I strongly suspected they would) I felt sure that the American people would turn on them with a vengeance. Because if you’re mean, vicious and powerful–as soon as you merely become mean and vicious (but weakened), then all those to whom you’ve been mean and vicious will want to stick it to you. In fact, they’ll delight in sticking it to you. Even those citizens who voted for you probably did so not out of any great love, affection or devotion. Rather they did it out of political calculation or expediency. And once you’re expendable you’re history. Nobody has any sense of allegiance to you after you’ve outlived your usefulness to them. Tom DeLay may find this out for himself. Perhaps even Bill Frist and George Bush will find this out too. It’s beginning to look more and more as if this will be the case. We can always hope.