DeLay: Out, out, damned spot!

By Mark Follman

Published January 4, 2005 3:12PM (EST)

It looks like Tom DeLay's ham sandwich defense didn't quite work out after all. The New York Times reports that after months of fierce criticism, the house majority leader and his cadre of Republican allies have bailed out on a proposed ethics rule change that would protect DeLay by keeping him in power even if he were to come under indictment.

"Those attending the Republican meeting, which was held on the day before the opening of the 109th Congress on Tuesday, said Republicans unanimously agreed to restore the old rule after Mr. DeLay told them that the move would clear the air and deny Democrats a potent political issue. In the past year, he has been admonished by the ethics panel three times: for his tactics in trying to persuade a colleague to support the Medicare drug bill, for appearing to link political donations to support for legislation and for involving a federal agency in a political matter in Texas."

The line of the day goes to Rep. Zach Wamp, who apparently was feeling a little dirty about DeLay's leadership and the factional power play to dig a moat around his dubious behavior.

"Some Republicans who originally opposed the rules change enthusiastically greeted the decision not to go through with it. 'It allows the Republicans to focus on the issues, the agenda that is before us and not to have Tom DeLay be the issue,' Representative Zach Wamp, Republican of Tennessee, said. 'I feel like we have just taken a shower.'"

Mark Follman

Mark Follman is Salon's deputy news editor. Read his other articles here.

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