This week, House Republicans bent their accountability rules to protect their majority leader from what they feel is a partisan Texas prosecutor. But they hated the whole exercise. They sat in a conference room hour after hour wringing their hands. Only a few members were brave enough to stand up and say they shouldn’t bend the rule. But afterward, many House Republicans came up to those members and said that secretly they agreed with them.
Somewhere in the psychology of the caucus something shifted. That ineffable thing called political capital began seeping away from DeLay. Someday people will look back and say this could be the moment when his power begins to ebb.
It’s shifted because many House Republicans know that DeLay has been playing close to the ethical edge for years. They’ve noticed the number of scandals – the latest involving lobbying fees for some Indian casinos – that trace back to DeLay cronies. They still remember that delicious feeling of possibility when they arrived in Washington and vowed they would not turn into the corrupt old majority they had come to replace. They know Delay symbolizes their descent from that reformist ideal.
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