Anne Kornblut of the New York Times has a piece leading off the "Week In Review" section today, complete with a huge picture of a smiling Tom DeLay with hand outstretched, that answers the question, Why are Republicans standing by their man?
Her answers are found here (emphasis added):
The reason, it seems, is that over the years, brick by brick, Mr. DeLay has built a wall of political support. His small acts of kindness have become lore. Pizza during late night votes.
Travel arrangements for low-level lawmakers. Birthday wishes, get-well cards, condolences for House members in emotional need.
On a larger scale, friends - and enemies - describe him as a favor-trader extraordinaire, piling up a mountain of goodwill. Almost every Republican in the House owes Mr. DeLay for something - a job, a piece of legislation or a large campaign contribution.
While the familiar Democratic caricature of Tom DeLay is that of a red-cheeked tyrant who started out as a bug exterminator and rose to power in Congress with a force that earned him the nickname "the Hammer," it is his cannier, more responsive side that appears to have won such a robust defense.
The powerful are indebted to him. J. Dennis Hastert was a relatively little-known representative from Illinois before Mr. DeLay catapulted him into the speaker's job in 1998.
The weak owe him as well. For the most imperiled Republican members of the House, Mr. DeLay created the "retain our majority" program, or ROMP.
His home state delegation is duty-bound because of his drive to redistrict Texas seats in favor of his party. K Street, the main drag for Washington's lobbyists, is home to many former DeLay staff members, as are Texas-based oil concerns (for which he has fought off stricter environmental standards).
And George W. Bush? Mr. Delay has pressed his Republican majority relentlessly to support the president's far-reaching legislation.
Clearly, Mr. DeLay has a geographic and ideological influence over broad swaths of his party that other politicians can only dream of.
Small and big favors. Attention to detail. Spreading money to where it's needed most . Expanding his party's majority.
It would be something to admire if it were done within the rules or without allegedly breaking the law.
The question for us, is how do we take on this type of power?
Unfortunately for Tom DeLay, a bricklayer's most important tool is not a "Hammer" as DeLay is nicknamed. It's a trowel, used to smooth the mortar that holds bricks together and sometimes to size bricks. And a brick wall built with suspect tools and techniques, on a corrupt foundation, is susceptible to crumbling under the weight of pressure.
It won't be taken apart brick by brick.