November 20, 2004


A Blue Dog Muzzled (David S. Broder, November 21, 2004, Washington Post)

Bigger names are leaving Congress -- notably former Democratic leaders Tom Daschle and Dick Gephardt -- but no one will be missed more on both sides of the aisle than Charlie Stenholm, the cotton farmer from Texas who has been in the House for 26 years.

Stenholm was a victim of the controversial redistricting plan pushed through the Republican legislature in Texas in 2003 at the instigation of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. The scheme -- now being given a second look by the federal courts -- succeeded in shifting the Texas delegation from 17 Democrats and 15 Republicans to a new ratio of 21 Republicans and 11 Democrats.

Tom DeLay is being reviled by the Left for his role in redistricting Texas so that its congressional representation more accurately reflects the will of Texans. Consider that, thanks to gerrymandering, Democrats had a majority of House in a state they just lost 61-38% at the top of the ticket.

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 20, 2004 8:36 PM

The Broders of the world are just going to have to start sucking up to Republicans for a change for insider information.

Posted by: Bart at November 20, 2004 8:41 PM

Oh come on now, OJ, the TX redistricting was a disgusting display of anti-democratic fascism in utter contempt for the "national mood." At least, that's what your pal Rick Perlstein told me on this very site.

Posted by: brian at November 20, 2004 9:09 PM

What Rick doesn't understand is what the great former ex-NYC mayor George Washington Plunkett said,'Politics ain't beanbag.' It's bloodsport. We won, you lost and we'll treat you with all the respect, courtesy, generousness of spirit, comity, warmth and appreciation that you treated us with over the last half-century.

Posted by: Bart at November 20, 2004 9:13 PM

That's an excuse to take no responsibility for bad behavior -- "it's fine as long as it's our side doing it!" And on an on it goes.

Posted by: at November 20, 2004 9:26 PM

You just the game by the rules it's played. Four downs to get 10 yards, that's just unfair. Why not five or six?

Winning and losing should matter, and the GOP should not be the slightest bit reticent about taking advantage of their position. If they screw up, the voters will punish them appropriately.

Posted by: Bart at November 20, 2004 9:46 PM

While I can't say the House Republicans' actions look good, the fact is that Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle has almost a two decade history of being "All Talk, No Action" when it comes to inesitgations of high-profile politicians like DeLay.

Ten years ago, when Kay Bailey Hutchison was running against Bob Kruger for the U.S. Senate, Earle started an investigation against her designed to influence the election, an effort that failed in the GOP rout of 1994. Four years earlier, he was the hit-man in a inter-party fight between Ann Richards and state AG Jim Mattox, who Richards was fighting with for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination. Again, lots of innuendo, but in the end no conviction, though it did scuttle Mattox' hopes of higher office.

Based on that, if you're the GOP and think the DeLay probe is just Chapter 3 of the same story, you might be inclined to change the rule, if you think the probe is bogus and Earle and the Democrats are just trying to combine the probe and the House rule to force DeLay out of his leadership position.

Posted by: John at November 21, 2004 1:24 AM

Is there any precedent for a federal court overturning gerrymandering?

The Republicans should offer to redistrict the entire country according to some sort of consistent plan, getting rid of the many Democratic gerrymanders in the process.

I wonder if they'd agree...

Posted by: Randall Voth at November 21, 2004 9:20 AM

Don't forget that the courts devised the 'first' Texas re-districting following the 2000 census. The legislature merely devised its own, as it is allowed under law. The Democrats should have gone along in 2001 (via the Legislature), because they undoubtedly would have received a better deal then.

Posted by: jim hamlen at November 21, 2004 12:17 PM