You do teach basic ethics to your children, don't you? You know, the difference between right and wrong. For example, I'm sure you teach them that if they get caught violating a family rule, they shouldn't suffer any consequences, but instead should simply be allowed to change that rule to fit their circumstance.
Luckily, you can now hold up Tom DeLay as the role model for your children on this ethical twist. DeLay, the Republican majority leader, keeps smashing into our society's rules with his bullying techniques and constant grabs for more political power for himself and his party. Twice this year, he's been brought up on serious ethical violations, but in both cases he managed to have his behavior reviewed by the toothless, gutless House Ethics Committee, rather than an outside, independent investigator. So he got away with what amounts to "Please don't do that again, Tom."
But now he faces the real possibility of his ethics being judged outside his own little playhouse. A Texas grand jury has already indicted three of his top aides for laundering illegal corporate campaign funds -- and DeLay could be next. His legal problems aside, an indictment would cause a big political problem for Tom, since his own party's rules in Congress require that any leader who gets indicted must resign from the leadership post.
But Ol' Tom didn't get where he is by playing by anyone's fussy rules -- so, in his words, he simply "fixed the rules." As their very first order of business following the November election, the Republican house caucus dutifully acted to shield their leader by scrapping that pesky ethics rule that would've forced DeLay to step down. As a result, even if he is indicted, he'll still be up there as the House majority leader -- an ethical model for all of our nation's children.
Actually, having an indicted man as the poster boy of the House Republicans might just be a very appropriate symbol.
Publication date: 12/02/04