April 28, 2005


Bush Takes Risk With Show of Support for DeLay (Jim VandeHei, April 27, 2005, Washington Post)

President Bush is doing for Tom DeLay what he refused to do for Trent Lott three years ago: taking a political risk to defend an embattled congressional leader's career, several Republican officials and strategists said.

With DeLay facing intense scrutiny of his travel, fundraising practices and relationship with controversial lobbyists, Bush yesterday offered the Texas Republican a timely show of support by inviting him to a public event and aboard Air Force One for a trip back to Washington from Texas. Scott McClellan, speaking to reporters before the flight, said the president supports DeLay "as strongly as he ever has."

While the two men have never been close personally, Bush has told friends he needs DeLay's help enacting a second-term agenda and does not consider the allegations against the House majority leader serious enough to warrant the cold shoulder he delivered to Lott (R-Miss.), then Senate majority leader, in 2002. Lott was forced to step down after making racially insensitive comments, and the president refused to voice support for Lott, which many Republicans said contributed to the Senate leader's fall.

Bush is adopting a markedly different strategy in publicly defending DeLay amid recent allegations that the Texas Republican may have violated House ethics rules by taking a trip to London and Scotland partially charged to the credit cards of two lobbyists, several Republicans said. If the DeLay controversy explodes into a bigger scandal, some said, it could taint the White House, especially with Bush going out of his way to align himself with DeLay.

"He does not think DeLay has done anything wrong," said Charlie Black, a GOP lobbyist with close ties to the White House. "It's Bush's natural instinct to stand with him. There could be a risk, but it's the kind of risk [Bush] takes all the time."

Racism is evil; breaking the ridiculous rules governing modern politics an inevitibility.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 28, 2005 12:00 AM

Making false accusations of racism, could also be considered evil. Failure to support a political ally because he's under attack for "insensitivity" can lead to doing cowardly stupid things like being bullied into signing unconstitutional Campaign Finance Legislation sponsored by a Senator that is using the same "sensitive" media in a demagogic manner. (legislation, that Lott had no trouble shutting down, even when in the minority). Bush has not been niggardly in "courageously" standing by his brother in Florida when he has been attacked as "insensitive" towards minorities. White politicians in the South will be under consistent attacks by the left for their "insensitivity" and one would hope that conservatives living in lily white enclaves would show some objectivity.

Lott has a record of over 25 years in Washington, it shouldn't be hard to find actual evidence of racism or failure to represent all his constituents in Congress, except for an attempt to compliment a 100 year old fellow Senator, who himself had supported the President and whom the President had never seen fit to attack when he needed his votes. You can describe the President's actions alot ways, but principled and courageous aren't the most obvious. If he wanted Lott out because of incompetence, then he should have proceeded to lobby Senators on that basis, rather than unctuously attempting to taint him on nebulous charges.

I support Bush and no, I don't think he is evil or sinister, nor in general characterized by weakness (altough his failure to veto any legislation is somewhat peculiar). But some people stumble on occasion and I don't see any reason compliment him on that episode.

Posted by: h-man at April 28, 2005 7:04 AM

Fair point by h-man. There was dissatisfaction with Lott as leader well before the Thurmond birthday comment and you did get a sense that the commment was used to get Lott out of the Majority leader position.

That said I agree with OJ. Lott's comment was being used to perpetuate the image of the GOP as racists. It didn't matter if there was no other evidence from a 25 yr career - the MSM was starting to portray Lott (he is from the South you know) as a KKKer and in turn the rest of the GOP.

In contrast Delay is being accused of violating some arcane and mind numbingly complex rules regarding travel and expenses. The GOP and bloggers have already started to show that probably 1/2 of the House of reps violated the rules the way Delay did. Even if Delay violated these rules it might only lead to a reprimand or formal complaint. So it makes sense for Bush to work to retain Delay, who is very effective.

Posted by: AWW at April 28, 2005 8:09 AM

It was racist, but racists may not recognize that.

Posted by: oj at April 28, 2005 8:18 AM

All Bush has to do is make a simple, probably parenthetical, statement that ALL House (and Senate) members who have taken trips paid for by non-profits or lobbyists should open their books and submit to the rules of the body. He can say, with a smile if necessary, that there should be no member singled out for what more than 600 of them have done in the past XX years.

I don't think Lott is a racist, but he was quite stupid (and not just with respect to his Thurmond remarks). Basically, he was becoming too independent and cranky (some would argue that is a plus, but not with a 51-49 Senate and a new President under attack for being 'illegitimate').

Posted by: jim hamlen at April 28, 2005 8:26 AM

I don't understand. Why is this risky for Bush?

Posted by: jdkelly at April 28, 2005 8:55 AM

JD - because the MSM wants it to be.

Posted by: AWW at April 28, 2005 11:33 AM