DeLay Era (and GOP Majority?) Ends As It Began

Jim VanDeHei and Juliet Eilperin in the Washington Post:

The Tom DeLay era is ending much as it began. An entrenched majority, battered by ethical scandals involving its top leaders, is running what many see as a politically polarized and profligate House of Representatives.

What is most remarkable, according to more than a dozen GOP lawmakers and aides, is that it took a little more than a decade for DeLay and House Republicans to succumb to many practices they railed against in the 1990s. From stifling congressional dissent to the raw use of power, they say, Republicans have become like the Democratic barons they ousted in 1994.

Dick Armey blames DeLay, but there's more than enough culpability to go around. Armey himself is hardly unblemished, though compared with the rest of the Republican Congressional leadership of the past decade — a rogue's gallery that includes Newt, DeLay, Trent Lott, and Bill Frist — he seems almost decent.

One thing that isn't brought up in the Post story is that there were indeed a few who predicted in 2004 that a Bush presidential win would come back to haunt the Republican Congress in 2006. Robert Novak wrote a little over two years ago: "normally loyal Republicans — actually including more than a few members of Congress — are privately talking about political merits in the election of Sen. Kerry. Their reasoning goes like this: There is no way Democrats can win the House or Senate even if Bush loses. If Bush is re-elected, Democrats are likely to win both the House and Senate in a 2006 midterm rebound. If Kerry wins, Republicans will be able to bounce back with congressional gains in 2006."

Will the Gerrymandered redistricing that took place after the 2000 census save the GOP? Or will Bush try to bail his party out with an October surprise? One wonders if even some Republicans in Washington don't half think that they would be better off to lose outright in November than win again with razor-slim majorities in both houses and face two more years of near universal contempt.

Addendum: Also in the Post, Karl Rove may finally have succeeded in mobilizing Latino voters.

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