Sunday, October 2


Greetings from Atlanta, first stop on the film shoot. Another anonymous hotel room with pillows way too large for my comfort. I thought I'd grab a snooze on the company plane, but we got into a flaming discussion of the week's activities and issues at work and hypered each other into a frenzy.

BLOGGER was down for maintenance this morning when I was watching the Sunday morning news shows and doing some reading I wanted to comment on, so I saved it for now.

The new issue of Newsweek features an article titled "Troubled Waters" that suggests the GOP is facing an unprecedented breakdown. These were my favorite parts:

Still, when it came time to discuss precisely what would happen next, discipline broke down. DeLay and Hastert had wanted Rep. David Dreier to step in as acting majority leader. Instead, the hard-charging Roy Blunt got the job. Members demanded full-scale elections sooner rather than later for a new permanent Leadership, and if DeLay doesn't escape his legal problem by January—hardly a certainty—that vote will occur and he won't be in the race. Reaching for inspiration, one acolyte compared the Speaker to Robert E. Lee and DeLay to Stonewall Jackson: when the latter was wounded, the former still won a crucial battle. But another member elicited wry laughter by pointing out that Jackson had been shot, accidentally, by his own troops.

Indeed, polltaker Frank Luntz, who helped develop the "Contract With America" message that swept Republicans to power in 1994, was on the Hill last week warning the party faithful that they could lose both the House and the Senate in next year's congressional elections.

In politics, timing is everything, and GOP officials worried that the many Abramoff investigations—not to mention a DeLay trial in Texas, if it comes to that—could take place next summer, just before the midterm elections.
(emphasis mine)

Jonathan Alter lands some gut punches to Tom DeLay:

But never before has the leadership of the House been hijacked by a small band of extremists bent on building a ruthless shakedown machine, lining the pockets of their richest constituents and rolling back popular protections for ordinary people. These folks borrow like banana republics and spend like Tip O'Neill on speed.

I have no idea if DeLay has technically broken the law. What interests me is how this moderate, evenly divided nation came to be ruled on at least one side of Capitol Hill by a zealot. This is a man who calls the Environmental Protection Agency "the Gestapo of government" and favors repealing the Clean Air Act because "it's never been proven that air toxins are hazardous to people"; who insists repeatedly that judges on the other side of issues "need to be intimidated" and rejects the idea of a separation of church and state; who claims there are no parents trying to raise families on the minimum wage—that "fortunately, such families do not exist" (at least Newt Gingrich was intrigued by the challenges of poverty); who once said: "A woman can't take care of the family. It takes a man to provide structure." I could go on all day. Congress has always had its share of extremists. But the DeLay era is the first time the fringe has ever been in charge.


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