Monday, January 03, 2005

Yes! Rudimentary democracy!

Here in the United States, no less - Congressional Republicans retreat from two of three proposals to repeal several ethical rules and remove the Republican Congressman chairing the House Ethics Committee who was standing up to Tom DeLay.

The proposals were:

1. Allow a Congressman indicted and facing trial for a felony to remain in the Republican Party leadership (DeLay faces a slight risk of being indicted soon for fundraising scandals).

2. Remove the "catch-all" ethics rule calling on Congresspeople to act "at all times in a manner that shall reflect creditably on the House." (DeLays fundraising trouble and bribe-like behavior got him in trouble on this one).

3. End the current practice where a tie vote in the Ethics Committee over whether to investigate a Congressperson means the investigation goes forward.

First two are gone, third one stays. Not clear yet if Republican Congressman Hefley will be thrown out for his impertinence towards DeLay.

These decisions were made in a closed Republican caucus - I'd give a lot to be a fly on the wall with mind-reading powers. The Post says DeLay was facing a revolt, but the question is why. Potential guesses:

1. Polls showed Republicans this stuff was big trouble.
2. Constituent letters and calls showed the same.
3. Republican gut instincts said the same, along with memories of the scandals faced by Dems in the 90s.
4. It's like the evil Star Trek Enterprise crew members in the alternate universe from Star Trek: The Original Series - lowranking Republican congressmen smelled blood, a chance to weaken a powerful superior officer, and go in for the kill sometime later.
5. They did it because it was the right thing to do, except for the one ethical relapse they accepted so DeLay wouldn't feel so bad.

Who can tell which is the real reason?

(For more background, see Talkingpointsmemo here and scroll up.)

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