The Mix

Being oppressed all the way to the bank …

Hammer time is yet to come.
So Tom DeLay has given up the ghost and will resign from the House. Words like “disgraced” and “fallen” are popular today, but I don’t see any particular reason for jubilation.

DeLay, who won the Republican nomination in the Texas 22nd CD, is now going to change his official residence to his pad in Virginia, allowing the Repubs to replace him on the ballot. So a House seat in a heavily Republican district that the Dems had a great shot at will now be contested against a “reform-minded” Republican without DeLay’s baggage. There’ll be less money for the Dem coming from outside the district, and it’ll be a much harder fight (you can learn more about the challenger, Nick Lampson, here).

The corruption machine that DeLay created is as strong as ever. Two weeks ago, the Senate passed a watered-down bill that bans meals and gifts from lobbyists and adds some disclosure provisions, but is otherwise toothless. Lobbying reform -- all the talk in DC just two months ago -- is dead on the Hill. The campaign finance bill that David Obey and Barney Frank finally came out with -- the one many of us were looking forward to with some anticipation -- turned out to be a terrible dog of a bill (PDF)

So the Hammer’s gone. What’s changed?

When it comes to money and politics, DeLay’s shown the way, and the model remains. Boehner, the new House GOP leader, is just as corrupt as DeLay ever was. Dems from Chuck Schumer to Steny Hoyer are trying to compete on the same field.

Those seats that DeLay redistricted into Republican hands in Texas? They’re still there.

And more than that, DeLay himself remains a hero, a martyr to conservatism. His legacy won’t be that of a tool of corruption who became too big for his britches, just as Reagan’s legacy is untainted by his borderline fascist policies in Latin America, his support for Apartheid South Africa or his relentless assaults on unions. Just as Newt Gingrich is now a great thinker, not a disgraced ideologue, DeLay will be rehabilitated presently.

There’ll be a period where he’s poisonous to everyone but conservative die-hards, of course. Those Republicans who don’t support him will say he’s one bad apple. But even that’ll soon pass. In two or three years, reporters will be going to him to seek the sage advice of Tom DeLay, senior statesman.

That's because we remain a nation that can’t agree on any basic facts, even something as basic as the idea that cheating and breaking campaign finance laws are bad things. For a large number of Americans, the Hammer’s fall was not due to his corruption, but to the corruption of liberals like Ronnie Earle -- the "partisan prosecutor" that organized a wtichhunt against DeLay. Why? Because DeLay's a good Christian, of course. He’s been doing God’s work, and the corrupt Democrats just couldn’t stand it any more.

DeLay says he can do more for the Republican majority outside of Congress. He might be right. He says he was inspired by the recent “War on Christians” conference. He wants to fight those who oppress people of faith.

Tom DeLay is a poster-boy for conservative victimhood, a corrupt clown who fancies himself a man of faith beleagured by the scourge of atheism. He’ll do fine, and he’ll keep working to keep Americans divided and white males pissed off. He’ll make the fortune that he has flirted with in Congress in earnest now.

So someone tell me what, exactly, we’re supposed to be celebrating?
Joshua Holland is a staff writer at Alternet and a regular contributor to The Gadflyer.