Joy In Mudville

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?

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9 Responses to Joy In Mudville

  1. Paul Gowder says:

    I think we’re entitled to a little chortling. The guy’s a right asshole, and even if he wasn’t guilty of the specific thing charged (yea, right), we know he’s guilty of taking enough dirty money from Jack Abrahamoff to plug Mt. St. Helens. In fact, I’m going to take an even more radical position (I might back off from it later). Lets play hardball right back with them on this thing.

    Hunter S. Thompson, may he Rest in Fear and Loathing, was, as usual, right-on in his analysis of (although sadly wrong about who would win this one):

    Presidential politics is a vicious business, even for rich white men, and anybody who gets into it should be prepared to grapple with the meanest of the mean. The White House has never been seized by timid warriors. There are no rules, and the roadside is littered with wreckage. That is why they call it the passing lane. Just ask any candidate who ever ran against George Bush — Al Gore, Ann Richards, John McCain — all of them ambushed and vanquished by lies and dirty tricks. And all of them still whining about it.

    That is why George W. Bush is President of the United States, and Al Gore is not. Bush simply wanted it more, and he was willing to demolish anything that got in his way, including the U.S. Supreme Court. It is not by accident that the Bush White House (read: Dick Cheney & Halliburton Inc.) controls all three branches of our federal government today. They are powerful thugs who would far rather die than lose the election in November.

    It’s time for our side to take the gloves off. If the charges can be made to stick, let ’em stick. And if they don’t stick, lets milk ’em for as much as we can while they’re on. Lets hit them as hard as they hit us for once.

    In other words: What Would Ken Starr Do?

  2. Ammonite says:

    Sorry Michael, but this post seems perversely oblivious to the history of this whole affair. The reason that people are doing joyous cartwheels over the indictment is precisely because all the outrage about DeLay’s corruption and steamrolling every rule that got in his way received no attention from law enforcement authorities at any level. Those of us who care about our institutions, our laws, and common decency have not had any way to turn.

  3. Paul Gowder says:

    (That paragraph right after the itals about the powerful thugs is Hunter’s, not mine, I don’t know why it didn’t get italicized)

  4. Kenneth Fair says:

    Are you kidding? In Florida, you have a 50-50 state; there’s enough of a Democratic apparatus to raise a stink about things. In contrast, and with only a few exceptions (Austin being one), Texas is run by the DeLay-Rove machine on every level, and has been since the 1990s. You don’t think DeLay controls the Fort Bend County GOP? Where do you think they get their money from? And who do you think owns the media in this state?

    It doesn’t help that the national Democratic party has, as far as I can tell, written off Texas, and that as a result, most Texas donations to the national party apparatus get funneled to other states.

  5. jem says:

    Hate to break it to you, but if it were a Dem, the GOP would be going nuts. I for one am sick of the way the ‘other side’ behaves in exactly the same situation. The problem is, the majority of Americans don’t seem to care. So, if it means playing hardball with a real asshole, why not? At least take him down, because the other side would do exactly the same thing and it is pretty clear that playing the niceguys is not working.

  6. Hi,

    A really bad thing about our legal system is that the presumption of innocence in court has been extended outside of the courtroom. Let us face it, DeLay, Kozlowski (sic) and the guy from Health South did really crappy stuff. Richard Perle too for that matter. Today, since no one will call them on it in public (and yes, this blog just contributed), no one even bothers to admit they screwed up (see, Brown, Michael).

    It is time to chortle.

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  8. schwa says:

    It has been common, substantiated knowledge for months if not years that DeLay’s behaviour in this and indeed most fundraising was in flagrant violation of at least the spirit of the applicable laws — the only question was whether he had succeeded in skirting around the letter of them. I consider the appropriate parallel to be Al Capone — there is no question that the man is a repellent crook, only whether, in the mountain of evidence, there were enough joined dots to convict him on something.

    It’s one thing to hold to a presumption of innocence where the evidence is ambiguous, but it’s quite another to say you should pretend to believe in his innocence when, if you follow this stuff, there’s more than enough basis for making up your mind.

  9. phil ford says:

    While I’m very happy to see DeLay indicted, I won’t be really pleased until he’s convicted. More folks in Congress owe him than owe Bush. I’m not sure a stake through his heart is gonna be enough. Besides, there’s always another one boss to step in.


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