Troubles in Sugar Land

Jesse Lee, writing at the Stakeholder, makes an important point:

It's hard to say how many headlines away that day is, but as we've said before, something has certainly shifted. The past week has seen literally a half dozen separate stories written on doubts within the GOP Conference about DeLay. That never happens. And DeLay's bizarre news conference and recent meetings to "assuage" his rank & file are also unusual, and smell of desperation.

It's really true. Ten days ago, the DeLay scandals were in the same category as Plame, and the intimidated Medicare actuary, and the 50 other small-bore scandals liberals hoped would undermine the House of Bush but which never seemed find the foundations. At some point in the last week, however, the DeLay's violations, either through new evidence or critical mass of news stories, experienced a phase shift, and now the editorialists are slamming him, the cable shows are dissecting him, the Democrats are planning against him, on and on. That he's embattled is being etched into conventional wisdom, give it three more days and David Broder will tattoo it on his ankle.

The only way for Republicans to derail the ethics attacks, it seems, is to unchain the ethics committee, but that move is almost certainly stillborn. That it's coming from the ethics chair DeLay demoted ensures it's DOA -- Tom would never lose a grudge match like that, bureaucratic warfare is in his bloodstream. To DeLay, party unity is the only way to keep Republicans ascendant, it's the touchstone of his political philosophy. So unless he decides to leave, he'll never let himself be pushed out, because he'd never allow the united front to publicly crumble. All of which may be good for Democrats. Tom DeLay, it seems, will be there to kick around for quite awhile longer.