11/18/2004

DeLaying the Inevitable

As reported in the New York Times, House Republicans voted yesterday to abandon an 11-year-old party rule that required a member of their leadership to step aside temporarily if indicted.

Meeting behind closed doors, the lawmakers agreed that a party steering committee would review any indictments handed up against the majority leader, Representative Tom DeLay of Texas, or any other members of the leadership team or committee chairmen, to determine if giving up a post was warranted. The revision does not change the requirement that leaders step down if convicted.
House Republicans were in a no-win situation on this. As New York Judge Sol Wachtler famously said, district attorneys now have so much influence on grand juries that “by and large” they can get them to “indict a ham sandwich.” Faced with what they considered to be a politically-motivated investigation of DeLay, they had a choice of letting Democrats remove their leader or change the rules to allow him to stay.

Democrats are already crying "foul", which is to be expected. Of course, if you make it down to paragraph 18 of the article, you'll discover that Democrats have no such rule for their own party leadership.

It's sad to see the Republicans reducing their ethical standards to that of the opposition.