Shooting the Devil in the Back

Jesse Lee thinks the sole force able to take out DeLay is Rove, and he can only do that by converting the GOP caucus. True, but I don't think he's got the power. The house leadership is surprisingly disconnected from the White House -- there's been no patron relationship there. Unlike Frist, Hastert and DeLay built this goddamn majority, and I'd be stunned if they let the transient occupants of the White House tell them how to run it. So I think Rove's meddling might prove counterproductive.

But what about internal fears from the conference? That's trickier. If DeLay is dragging down the poll numbers and become a problem for the Republicans, would he allow Hastert and Blunt to put him out of his misery? My answer, again, is nope. You have to remember that DeLay was never a Gingrichite, he's never been a movement guy concerned with creating an enduring GOP majority in order to change the world. DeLay's ruthlessness, and thus his success, actually comes from his alternative motivation -- the man wants power, simple as that. And he doesn't just want it for his friends or party or patrons, he wants it for himself. So you're about to watch DeLay cash in all the chits, call in all the debts. All those lawmakers he installed in power? Watch them circle the wagons. All those lobbyists he invited into the Capitol? Watch them contribute to the fund. And DeLay himself? He's readying for war, already constructing a him-against-the-world narrative. His very belligerence closes off his escape routs, once he's entered the fight and vowed to win it, losing becomes unacceptable, a knife in his pride. He won't allow it -- it's personal.

And that, for Democrats, is probably the best outcome. DeLay flailing wildly, desperately trying to survive as Republicans distance themselves, caucus dissension hits the papers, and the poll numbers nosedive. DeLay, for his part, has never been good in front of the cameras. He's not a skilled media personality, more apt to reach heights of sublime absurdity (i.e, his defense of Quayle, which argued that minorities snatched up all the spots in Vietnam, leaving no room for white boys like Dan and Tom) and blistering rage than to turn in compelling and vulnerable performances. But if he wants to survive, he'll have to step into the limelight, which might kill him on its own. And the more damage DeLay takes, the more his omnipresent PAC contributions and fundraisers will hurt the candidates they were meant to benefit. In the end, he's got too much pride to go quietly and he's too connected to go on his own. If Tom's going to die, he won't go clean. He'll writhe and flail, and he'll take many a friend and foe down with him.

We can only hope.