From Mike Allen of the Washington Post we learn more about all the behind-the-scenes maneuvering to defend Tom DeLay from, well, Mike Allen of the Washington Post and his colleagues in the fourth estate. There's some surreal about this -- people leaking the srategy to deal with the hostile media to one of the reporters who is being accused of being too hostile.
Here are some choice passages:
...they plan to try to preserve his power by launching an aggressive media strategy and calling in favors from prominent conservative leaders, according to Republicans participating in the strategy sessions.
The Republicans said the strategy combines leaks from DeLay allies about questionable Democratic trips and financial matters; denunciations of unfavorable news stories as biased, orchestrated rehashes; and swift, organized responses to journalists' inquiries.
Officials working with DeLay said he is trying to lock in support by sowing the message that an attack on him is an attack on the conservative movement, and that taking him out would be the Democrats' first step toward regaining control of the House and Senate. These officials said they believe the attacks are part of a strategy by Democrats, aided by watchdog groups funded by liberals, to use the ethics process to try to regain power.
At the same time, DeLay is continuing his high-decibel comments -- including his warning last week about "a judiciary run amok" -- on the theory that he is going to remain himself and not bend to the opposition, friends say.
Taking cures from Clinton defense:
According to party sources, top Republican aides now have a daily conference call in which they trade intelligence about upcoming DeLay stories so they can form a united front in responding.
DeLay staff members are linking with outside lawyers -- including Barbara Comstock, former research director of the Republican National Committee -- to form what is essentially a campaign organization aimed at minimizing damage to DeLay and building support despite what they believe will be a continuing torrent of news stories about his travel, fundraising and dealings with lobbyists.
One Republican familiar with the strategy, who asked not to be identified in order to be more candid, described the message as "Clintonian" in that it emphasized the idea that "there's no news, and they're out to get us" -- with the addition that "liberal media, liberal Democrats" are to blame. (emphasis added)
Virginia Republican Rep. Eric Cantor is right about one thing. Allen quotes him saying:
"It is not stopping at Tom DeLay, and Tom DeLay is not the issue."
Right. The corruption of Congress by big money is the issue. DeLay is the system's biggest abuser and he needs to pay the price if any of the others are to learn any lessons.