Thursday, November 18, 2004

Tom DeLay innocent and guilty

The Republicans must be very proud of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex). They are going out of their way to put their values in reverse for him.

Back in the early 90s, when the Republicans didn't have such bully good odds of putting a super-majority stranglehold on the Congress, they thought they'd take the high road and pass a rule that said that if a Republican congressman were indicted, that person would have to step down until a verdict was reached - for good if found guilty.

Now, it is true that this gentlemanly rule goes against the basic tenet of justice in this country. Napoleonic law says a suspect is guilty until proven innocent, and though it doesn't always seem so, American justice says just the opposite - that a person is innocent until proven guilty. (The rather Draconian Patriot Act does erode this premise somewhat, more on that another day.)

The presumption of innocence: it's a good idea. The prosecution should have to make the case to try, sentence and/or punish someone. Now, in the case of Mr. DeLay and his friends, that'll be up to District Attorney Ronnie Earle in Austin. Mr. Earle is a Democrat, which might make any charges seem partisan (so the Republicans rushing to Mr. DeLay's defense would have us believe), but the bread trail exists, and crumbs (if not laundered LOAVES) seem to raise reasonable suspicions. Still, suspicions are not the same as guilt. The law says Tom DeLay is innocent, so far so good.

As opposed to certain star special prosecutors, Mr. Earle seems to have a record that will stand up to the blows the Republicans deliver with such shameless furvor. When it comes to dishing out some justice, Mr. Earle's case history seems to suggest he's an honorable enough man.

So as it stands, Representative DeLay hasn't been indicted, and he is innocent of any legal charges. But we could ask other questions:

For example, is Tom DeLay an honorable enough man? Is he a virtuous man? Is he what we want in a public servant? Are his values so admirable (and his service even to the party so special) that the Republicans should change the protocol of the Congress to not only accommodate but staunchly defend him? And if so, then what are the values here? Among the Republican bigwigs, does loyalty to strictly partisan principles trump all other values? Is he THAT valuable?

The Republicans are the 'party of values.' Looks like they've taken them all, or most of the good ones, so there aren't many values left anybody who's not a true blue Republican - I mean true red Republican. The Republicans seem to be trying to get away with anything of value - even if belongs to somebody else.

On the playground, the kids who acted the way many Republican congressmen act were not our friends. They'd draw up the boundaries of all the unsupervised games - and bully us into chosing sides. They'd snarl and stomp and divide us by terror and coercion - and sometimes even force, if necessary. Sometimes, our clothes got ripped, and our glasses got broken, and we'd get in even more trouble at home as if we were at fault.

Our parents would say, "It takes two to fight," and somehow that made sense because we were ten years old. But you know what? It only takes one bully to start something. You can get hurt - and even look like you are fighting - when all you're trying to do is get through recess.

Some republicans, even as kids, really know how to carve up some territory, and they're not in it as a fun for all. Rep. DeLay doesn't seem to have outgrown being the pit bull of the playground. He carved up Texas without considering, it seems, many virtues or graces - and without much sense of justice. He may look like a used car salesman, but he acts like conniving Mr. Potter in "It's a Wonderful Life," carving up Bedford Falls, selling the decent townfolk a bill of goods, hiding our hard earned money in his newspaper and never telling 'til the Sheriff comes to take him away - and maybe not then. Nobody roots for Mr. Potter in the movie. And so we have to wonder about the sorts of people who would root for Mr. DeLay in real life.

Again, Mr. DeLay has yet to be charged with - and is currently innocent of - certain, specific crimes. He is innocent legally. But he is guilty of things for which we may proceed to judge him. Mr. DeLay is guilty of being bitter, righteous and injudicious. He is guilty of being seemingly shameless, of being disdainful, of being a mean bully.

And he is in a position to hurt people.

Shouldn't he consider another career besides public service, something more to do with insects, for example, and less to do with people?

And without having to await the legal outcome of these matters, shouldn't we question the values of the people who root for and defend Tom DeLay?


At 11/20/2004 9:42 AM, Blogger Aleksu said...

Well, seems like Delay got a break from his fellow Reps.


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