As the whole world probably knows by now, a Texas grand jury indicted Majority Tom Delay this afternoon. Not only did I read about on a gazillion blogs, one more triumphalist than the next, but someone here came by and dealt me a photocopy of the indictment from a little stack.
I agree the public information makes the guy look guilty, but can I just be a dissenting voice here and say that there is something about the chortling that I don’t like. Even really vile politicians are entitled to a fair trial. As private citizens we are allowed to rush to judgment — only officialdom must act on the presumption of innocence — but there’s still something to the idea that we should leave our minds open to the idea of innocence. (And I’ve never liked conspiracy prosecutions without a charge for an underlying offense, and I’m not minded to start liking them now, even when the cause is jurisdictional rather than lack of evidence.)
The other thing that bugs me even more about this is the casual way in which everyone seems to accept the idea that this conspiracy prosecution is necessary because the local Texas DA who would have sole jurisdiction over the underlying election law finance offenses would never prosecute them. Seems that as of a couple of weeks ago at least, the district attorney in Fort Bend County, John Healey Jr., has never investigated DeLay or TRMPAC, and had no plans to do so. Many articles on the subject blandly reported that this was because Healey, a Republican, has no desire to harm the head of the state GOP. (If anything has changed recently, I can find no sign of it.)
Even Florida DAs are not quite that brazen about their political loyalties and fears. Where’s the outrage?