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Make room for Tom: If M.C. Hammer can have a second act in American life (OK, "The Surreal Life"), then why can't "The Hammer"?






























































































DeLay-ed Reaction

As accusations of ethics violations mount, Tom Delay, the darling of the Christian Right, responds by invoking God and ducking the truth.

By Mary Beth Crain

“Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a Republican. But I repeat myself.”—Harry S. Truman

President Bush has repeatedly praised Tom DeLay as a “great Republican,” and indeed, there’s not a soul out there who can deny that Tom Delay is a great Republican. After all, the House Majority Leader has responded to mounting accusations of ethics violations in the finest Republican tradition: slinging cow pies at the opposition and invoking the name of his supposedly staunchest supporter, God, to distract attention from his own illegal and immoral activities.

Last week, Tom’s outrageous response to those accusations became yet another installment in the ongoing display of Republican arrogance that has made America the laughingstock of the world. At a $250-a-plate gala in his honor at the Capital Hilton in Texas, Delay delighted his filet mignon- and salmon-stuffed supporters by dismissing any intimations that he’s not a paragon of virtue as merely a Democratic smear tactic, and that the Dems “have no ideas and no class.”

Which leads one to wonder what, in Delay’s mind, constitutes an “idea?” And what, exactly, is “class?” Are ideas the wondrous inspirations God whispers to Republicans as they pray out of one side of their mouth and utter inanities out of the other? And if cheap name-calling, blatant wrongdoing and arrogant above-the-law attitude constitutes “class,” all I can say is, we’re in deep doo-doo. With a capital D, and that rhymes with T, and that stands for trouble. Right here in the Good Old US of A.

As we speak, Delay’s fellow Republicans are squirming like angry snakes caught in the trap of truth. “If death comes from a thousand cuts, Tom DeLay is into a couple hundred, and it’s getting up there,” recently observed a top Republican political consultant who requested anonymity because he’s been a DeLay ally. “You start hitting arteries, it only takes a couple.” Many Republicans on the Hill are concerned about DeLay putting himself, and them, in political peril. Of course, none of them are concerned about DeLay’s amoral behavior per se. They just don’t want him to get caught and spoil the party.

Recently, Howard Dean predicted that Mr. Delay, whose sins range from illegal fund raising to travel abuses and God (literally, perhaps) knows what else, “may end up in jail.” This restrained, bordering-on-the-obvious assessment prompted yet another gem of Republican profundity: “Leading a party with no ideas, no solutions and no agenda, Howard Dean’s latest antics . . . show the sad state the Democrats have sunk to,” smugly blared DeLay’s press secretary and pet parrot, Dan Allen.

It is, of course, pathetic statements like these that show the sad state to which the country has sunk (grammar, grammar, Mr. Allen). The Christian Right exhibits an even lower intellectual/ethical IQ. It isn’t their darling Tom Delay who’s at fault; it’s those mean, nasty Democrats who are unraveling the moral fabric of our society faster than an army of deranged moths, and who, if they aren’t stopped, will take us to hell faster than you can say Howard Dean is the Anti-Christ.

DeLay, of course, misses few opportunities to remind the world that he is a devout man of God, patently incapable of the violations of which he’s accused. At the National Day of Prayer gathering on Capitol Hill earlier this month, the GOP leader delivered a sermon on, of all things, the need for more humility in public servants. “Throughout human history, all evil, all sin and indeed all suffering is ultimately a product of human pride and self-conceit,” DeLay said, seemingly without a trace of irony. “At the same time, all heroism, all virtue, all true progress is ultimately a product of humility and self-sacrifice, from the obedience of Abraham and Moses, to the courage of Jesus on the cross.”

Later asked by a television reporter how he’d chosen the subject of his talk, DeLay replied, “Humility is something I work on every day.”

A truly scary group that calls itself The Capitol Hill Prayer Alert continues to exhort all faithful Christians to “pray for Tom DeLay”—a “bold dedicated Believer in Jesus Christ,” a “Christian Statesman Targeted.” Accusing the Democrats, liberals, and other emissaries of Satan of unrelenting, unrepentant sinning, they aim a bevy of rhetorical questions at their followers:

• Do you want your children to In ERIT an officially God-less nation?
• Do you WEEP over a worldly, divided and largely ineffective American Church?
• Are you OUTRAGED that our Courts are determined to strip us of true religious liberty?
• Do you know in your heart that America’s ONLY HOPE is sweeping, God-given Revival and a Biblical Reformation, ushered in by prayer?

Yet Republicans and Christians haven’t always held the lead in the Dunce Cap Championships or World Cup Corruption Classics. It was Abraham Lincoln, after all, who made “Republican” synonymous with “ethical” and who elevated the presidency to a level of thoughtful, selfless integrity that became the embodiment of the democratic ideal. And It was Theodore Roosevelt, another brilliant Republican, good Christian, and staunch defender of governmental ethics, who said, “To educate a person in mind and not in morals is to educate a menace to society.”

Which brings us back to Tom DeLay. He’s a menace to society, all right, and an even worse one than Roosevelt describes because he’s been educated in neither mind nor morals. He’s an idiot parading as a purveyor of “ideas,” a hypocrite parading as the guardian of morality, the arbiter of crass parading as the arbiter of class. I might laugh at him if he weren’t so downright dangerous. The biggest defender of destroying the constitution as we know it, he’s got too many pals in high places, in particular our President, who are hell bent on making this country a place you can't call home unless you’re a flag-waving heterosexual multi-millionaire evangelical Texas Christian. With a capital C, and that rhymes with T, and that stands for Trouble. Right here in the good old US of A.


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Contributing editor Mary Beth Crain is also a writer for the L.A. Weekly, and is the author, most recently, of "A Widow, a Chihuahua and Harry Truman." She lives in Pasadena, CA. Her last piece for SoMA was A Tale of Religious Masochism.


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