Timing is everything

Clock superimposed over face of Tom DeLay

Late night rebuke for the bug man

Before entering the House of Representatives, Tom DeLay, now majority whip, was an exterminator. A Texas good ol' boy, DeLay happily bore the moniker "The Bug Man." Late on the night of the first presidential debate, the House ethics committee rebuked him gently, hoping nobody would notice.

DeLay can always be counted on for a loud, loud-mouthed defense of all things Bush and Republican. He works relentlessly as the enforcer, whipping the Republicans of the House into the line. Of late he was a primary force behind redistricting (gerrymandering) in Texas to ensure and augment continued Republican majorities.

Tom DeLay
House majority whip, Tom DeLay (R-TX)

But like the bugs he used to hunt, DeLay scurries from the light whenever it is shined on his political affairs. His ethics have been called into question several times over the years. Just last month, three of DeLay's associates were indicted by a Texas grand jury for activities involving DeLay's political action committee (PAC). And last night, the House ethics committee issued a report on DeLay's actions during the infamous pre-dawn extended roll-call vote on the Medicare prescription drug benefit. The bill was in danger of being defeated, and voting was held open for hours while Republican leaders twisted arms of recalcitrant members of their party. DeLay was accused of offering to endorse the congressional bid of a fellow House member's son if the member would vote the "right way" on the bill.

"Bug man" or "bug" — you decide.

The ethics committee found that DeLay had indeed violated House rules by offering to exchange a political favor for a vote.

But here's the good part: aside from issuing the report — deemed "a public admonishment" — the committee will take no further action. Furthermore, they issued this report during the night of the first presidential debate when it was certain that all the news media would have their attention fixed on the debate and the spin campaign to follow.

This little trick has been used over and over again by the Bush administration. Bad economic news to report? Wait until late Friday afternoon, preferably before a holiday, to issue the numbers. Forced to release more documents about Bush's "service" in the National Guard after insisting that everything had already been released? Do it Friday night.

Republicans have cut every corner and used every trick in the book to consolidate their political power. They seem always ready to put partisan politics above what's best for the country. Even when it comes to something as obviously important as intelligence reform, maneuvering in the House has been so egregious that the White House disavowed support for the House version of the bill (at least in public). It's not that Democrats haven't sometimes engaged in similar shenanigans when given the chance, but what the Republicans have done goes far beyond the pale and has no place in a democracy.

These guys have got to be stopped.