Friday, October 14, 2005

Beginning Of The End For The GOP

October 14, 2005

Michael K. Fauntroy is a regular commentator for the BBC and NPR. Fauntroy is an assistant professor of public policy at George Mason University, where he teaches courses in urban policy and American government. Read his blog at

Unlike many observers who have gleefully exulted in Tom DeLay’s recent indictments, I think his guilt or innocence is almost beside the point, particularly since he’s still in the House wielding his considerable power.  His arm twisting  to ensure recent passage of the giveaway for the oil-industry energy bill proves his troubles aren’t weakening his support among House Republicans—yet. You see, his possible acquittal doesn’t obviate the fact that he is a dirty politician and his continued presence as such a prominent Republican marks the beginning of the end of GOP dominance of Congress.  I write this not because I know a secret but, rather, because DeLay’s indictment is one of a long list of ethical lapses that show the national GOP to be corrupt.  How can they go to the voters next year asking for continued congressional control when it is now clear that all they want to do is use it to enrich their friends and punish their enemies, all on the taxpayers dime?

The DeLay indictments are another in a long line of recent events demonstrating that the Republican Party in Washington, D.C., from the White House to Capitol Hill, is shot through with corruption and besotted with power.  They've looted the federal treasury of billions to pay for an unjustified war in Iraq (and the Coalition Provisional Authority has literally lost $8 billion there), no-bid contracts to their friends is their standard operating procedure, they've jeopardized people all over the country with that ridiculous bankruptcy bill they wrote and passed, they've been wasteful spenders of taxpayers money, and they don't seem to care about the damage their policies are doing to the federal deficit.

Karl Rove might have outed a covert CIA operative.  David Safavian resigned his position as the Bush administration's chief procurement officer just prior to his mid-September indictment on charges of obstruction of justice surrounding crooked GOP lobbyist and DeLay crony Jack Abramoff.  There are examples too numerous to list here of political appointees that are patently unqualified for the jobs to which they have been assigned. Not to mention the fact that some of these jobs require decisions to be made that literally have life and death consequences (those who come to mind immediately are Mike "Brownie, you're doing a great job" Brown and the guy in charge of the government response to fllu pandemics, Stewart Simonson ).

Meanwhile, Republican elected officials are being caught in scheme after scheme to enrich themselves.  Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham sold his house to a government contractor doing business before Cunningham’s committee for nearly twice its market value in what can only be called a bribe. Further, Cunningham lived for years on this same contractor's houseboat in D.C. Sen. Bill Frist is now under investigation for what may turn out to be insider trading. Numerous Ohio Republicans, most notably Governor Robert Taft, have had varying levels of investigations their way, not to mention legitimate concerns about voter suppression in the last election.  And let's not forget former Gov. Ryan of Illinois, who is currently in court facing charges that he took cash and gifts to help insiders land lucrative state contracts.

DeLay’s indictment may turn out to be nothing.  It may turn out to be a big deal.  Either way you slice it, it's part of a long pattern of corruption that has developed over the years of GOP dominance of Congress and the White House. The Gingrich Revolution was largely built around the argument that 40 years of Democratic control led to arrogance and corruption.  Now it's clear that the GOP has done more damage to the nation in a shorter time and we have to pay the bill.

© Michael K. Fauntroy, September 29, 2005


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