So much to read this morning!
Former Republican House Majority Leader DeLay's indictment on one count of criminal conspiracy is the lead story in almost all of the nation's newspapers this morning (and some great international coverage too!). The Washington Post headlines their coverage thusly: "Troubled Year Gets Worse for the GOP," and Dan Balz outlines the successful electoral and legislative partnership between DeLay and President Bush. "Bush has been the party's public face, direction-setter and most effective campaigner. But in Washington, DeLay has been an iron force who bent the system to his will and priorities," Balz writes. My how the times have changed. Now, "on almost every front, Republicans see trouble."
DeLay's hometown paper, the Houston Chronicle, has this from DeLay: "Let me be very clear: I have done nothing wrong," DeLay said at a Washington news conference. "I have violated no law, no regulation, no rule of the House." Er, this time...those three admonitions by the House Ethics Committee, eh...
Mary Flood, also of the Chronicle, talks to legal experts who say DeLay "better have a smoking gun." Buck Wood, and Austin lawter who filed a related similar suit on behalf of Democratic congressional candidates said:
"I can't imagine indicting a majority leader of the U.S. House of Representatives without having a smoking gun, and that means someone who flipped on DeLay. He's got to have corroborating evidence, too, bills and things proving where DeLay was at key times."
David Crump, a University of Houston professor, explains what the conspiracy charge means by comparing it to "moonshine cases," in which courts found that people who delivered sugar, knowing it would be used in the production of moonshine, could not be charged with conspiracy.
The Austin-American Statesman has DeLay defending himself and attacking Earle: "This act is the product of a coordinated, premeditated campaign of political retribution, the all-too-predictable result of a vengeful investigation led by a partisan fanatic," DeLay said.
The New York Times has a handy timeline running from DeLay's first term in the house in 1984 up to yesterday's indictment.
Robin Toner at The New York Times strikes a similar chord as Dan Balz, with a headline that reads: "For G.O.P., DeLay indictment adds to a sea of troubles."
"This is not what the Republicans envisioned 11 months ago, when they were returned to office as a powerful one-party government with a big agenda and - it seemed - little to fear from the opposition," she writes.
The Los Angeles Times reports that the GOP lost a "powerful enforcer" when DeLay resigned his post as Majority Leader. The indictment came at a time when the Republican party can least afford it and is "already battered by other ethics controversies, plummeting public confidence and intraparty divisions over budget policy."
Hook and Reynolds get some good quotes from GOP notables.
"It's hard to spin this as anything other than another problem dropped on the pile of troubles our side faces now," GOP pollster Whit Ayres said. "Bad news tends to come in bunches, and we've had a bunch lately."
"It's going to be harder for Republicans to pass whatever it is the Republicans want to pass," said former Rep. Patrick J. Toomey (R-Pa.)
Others appear to be rallying around the shamed former Majority Leader.
"This is the first day of a war," said Rep. Peter T. King (R-N.Y.). "This was a cheap shot against Tom DeLay, and he was indicted because he was majority leader. If we abandon Tom DeLay, we're abandoning ourselves."
The stories go on and on...and I have a feeling this is just getting started.