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Personal reflection on DeLay's last day

Tom DeLay: "I exit, as always, stage right."

… and he leaves us with a canned closer that has been used many times before. Oh well, originality was never one of DeLay’s strong points — winning at any cost is what DeLay shall be remembered for in the history books.

DeLay epitomizes the very worst, and dangerous, attributes of a person attempting to rise in power, partly for the sake of ideology but also for the sake of attaining power itself. DeLay is an outspoken ideological conservative, but his tactics reveal just as much love for power.

He was one of the architects of the "Republican revolution" in 1994 to sweep out corruption and the stranglehold on democratic procedures in the House that the Democratic majority at the time personified. But he swiftly rose up the ranks of power by embracing — and taking to new heights — those same strategies of corruption and authoritarianism in the House.

All of us are familiar with the corruption Tom DeLay represents when it comes to money and politics. Less known, but of even greater concern, is the strict authoritarianism in the House of Representatives that DeLay ushered in and is leaving us with. He has re-written the rules of procedure by solidifying unitary control over committee leaders and the Rules Committee.

Under the autocracy that DeLay built, never before has floor debate in Congress been so silenced. Most bills now have closed or restrictive rules attached to them, which means that debate and amendments cannot be considered. When companion bills from the House and the Senate are sent to conference committee to be ironed out, DeLay’s autocracy would frequently lock out all the Democrats and even dissenting Republicans from discussions, allowing the autocracy to write the final legislation, insert any earmarks it chose and then push the bill for a final vote with no opportunity for amendments.

Even when the House ethics committee rather timidly "admonished" DeLay in 2004 for his unethical behavior, DeLay’s autocracy had three disloyal Republican members on the committee fired and replaced with those who were known to be loyal to DeLay.

Sometimes this ability to win at any cost is misconstrued as effectiveness. It is far more dangerous than that. It is a deep-seated disdain for democracy, for the democratic procedures and civil liberties that get in Tom DeLay’s way.

At least today democracy won.

Good riddance DeLay — though I know your hostility to American democracy will continue to be felt as you enter the world of K Streetlobbyists.