Don't like the rules? Just change 'em


Geraldine Sealey
November 17, 2004 9:01PM (UTC)

When you're in power, apparently, you can just change the rules whenever you don't want to follow them anymore -- and think no one will notice. That's what House Republicans appear to be doing to protect their leader Tom DeLay in the event the indictments that seem to be contagious in his circle of Texas friends and colleagues spread to him. Last night, House GOP members proposed changing GOP party rules to allow leaders to stay in their posts even if they're indicted by state grand juries. Today, the rule change is expected to gain approval at a closed door meeting.

The best part: This rule was adopted more than 10 years ago when House Republicans wanted to show how corrupt Democrats were and that Republicans "held themselves to higher standards than prominent Democrats," as the Washington Post put it. With trouble brewing in DeLay's circle of political associates now, though, Republicans are quick to move to change the rule so they don't actually have to hold themselves to their own standards.

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Democrats and congressional watchdog groups are criticizing the proposal, but it probably won't do any good. Nancy Pelosi said last night, according to the Post: "If they make this rules change, Republicans will confirm yet again that they simply do not care if their leaders are ethical. If Republicans believe that an indicted member should be allowed to hold a top leadership position in the House of Representatives, their arrogance is astonishing."


Geraldine Sealey

Geraldine Sealey is senior news editor at Salon.com.

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