The New York Times has three stories of note today, an editorial, a news piece of unrest in DeLay's district, and a Frank Rich column chock full of insight and great writing.
The editorial's key paragraph:
Mr. DeLay's ethical and financial lapses are serious and disqualifying for his high office. But even more alarming than his love for political money is his abuse of power. He appears to be confused about the difference between a legislative majority won in an election and total control held indefinitely.
Having the nation's paper of record editorialize against DeLay's continuing hold on power will generate the same reaction from DeLay and his minions we've seen all along -- he is being attacked by the liberal media elite. So, this editorial's impact will have little effect on their message. But the impact on the so-called "elite" shouldn't be dismissed. When the Times writes in its lead editorial that a Majority Leader's actions are "disqualifying for his high office," movers and shakers in business, politics, academia and elsewhere take notice. DeLay's base of support, not that the Times was ever in it, is shrinking and shrinking fast to those who are not influenced by the WSJ, NY Times, etc. His base has shrunk to Republican members of Congress (who are increasingly worried), religious conservatives, and to those who play the money game in Washington.
The second piece warranting a read is an overview of what is happening back home in his district. It starts with the story of Patricia Baig, a retired teacher, who is a lifelong Republican. She has been turned off by DeLay's unethical behavior and she took out an ad in the local paper to help the protest in Houston yesterday. The local GOP went after her, as they had done with Bev Carter, the editor of another local paper, and who was also featured in the piece.
Frank Rich's column wraps up the Times' coverage. Rich eloquently points out the contradictions between DeLay's piety and his sleazy actions, using all of DeLay's associates as fodder. Here is one excerpt:
In the DeLay story almost every player has ostentatious religious trappings, starting with the House majority leader himself. His efforts to play God with Terri Schiavo were preceded by crusades like blaming the teaching of evolution for school shootings and raising money for the Traditional Values Coalition's campaign to save America from the "war on Christianity." Mr. DeLay's chief of staff was his pastor, and, according to Time magazine, organized daily prayer sessions in their office. Today this holy man, Ed Buckham, is a lobbyist implicated in another DeLay junket to South Korea.
But it's not merely Christian denominations that figure in the religious plumage of this crowd. Mr. Abramoff, who is now being investigated by nearly as many federal agencies as there are nights of Passover, is an Orthodox Jew who in his salad days wore a yarmulke to press interviews. In Washington, he opened not one but two kosher restaurants (I hear the deli was passable by D.C. standards) and started a yeshiva. His uncompromising piety drove him to condemn the one Orthodox Jew in the Senate, Joe Lieberman, for securing "the tortuous death of millions" by supporting abortion rights. Mr. Abramoff's own moral constellation can be found in e-mail messages in which he referred to his Indian clients as "idiots" and "monkeys" even as he squeezed them for every last million. A previous client was Zaire's dictator, Mobutu Sese Seko, who, unlike Senator Lieberman, actually was a practitioner of torture and mass murder.
There's more, and I hope you read it. Enough said.