The left has come up with a target, and his name is Tom DeLay. He isn’t their first and won’t be their last, but for now he’s the Republican they hope to take down.
They’ve tried in the past to do the same thing to others. Vice President Cheney, Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld and White House adviser Karl Rove have all been portrayed as ethically challenged and sleazy by the same folks who are now going after the House Republican leader from Texas. Trumped-up charges of illegality, paid ads and reports from ethics groups that are little more than fronts for partisan and ideological assaults on their opponents are all part of the now familiar pattern.
If the attacks on those who have come before are any guide, this will go on for some time and then subside as they find new targets on whom to vent their bile.
DeLay is far from perfect, but he’s no criminal and one doubts if any of his colleagues really believes he’s motivated by anything other than his strongly held principles and a desire to win. In fact, the argument that he’s essentially a venal inside-the-Beltway operator is probably the weakest part of the left wing’s case against him because, while one can picture him crossing the line to achieve his ideological objectives, it is impossible to visualize him doing so to make a buck.
He is, however, both tough and an in-your-face conservative who isn’t in the habit of taking prisoners and knows that his opponents aren’t going to pull their punches as they try to take him out. His problem is that the very qualities that make him an effective leader and a hero to his partisans also make him an inviting target. He no doubt considers that part of the price of leadership, and to a remarkable degree in today’s Washington he’s right.
The situation in which the left finds itself these days gives the boys and girls at MoveOn.org and the like little choice. They don’t seem very adept at winning elections, but remain convinced that the problem is not their message but that the opposition cheats or at least won’t play fair with them. Thus, the Bush forces must have somehow cheated in Ohio and elsewhere or, as Teresa Heinz Kerry apparently believes, rigged the newfangled voting machines across the country to steal the election from her sainted husband.
In their minds, no Republican or conservative could win anything on the merits, so we must all be dishonest manipulators and mean-spirited crooks of one kind or another.
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