Tuesday, April 04, 2006

DeLay, the Lobbyist?

DeLay Resignation Clears Way For Medal of Freedom Award

To Scold Wayward Republicans, President To Conduct Ceremony In Full Session

Within hours of his resignation announcement last night, the White House said that President Bush will bestow to former House Leader, Representative Tom DeLay, a former pest exterminator, the Congressional Medal of Freedom Award, for “years’ of dedicated service to the country.”

“Tom DeLay is what is good about America,” the President said in a statement released. “His passion and dedication to the Congress has made our country stronger, and safer. He has unselfishly shared his good will and experience to build up the institution of the Congress to be a beacon of democracy.”

There’s A New Hammer In Town

Under DeLay’s leadership, beginning with the Republican Revolution of 1994, when he wrested the leadership post away from Revolution Leader Representative Newt Gingrich choice (Rep. Robert S. Walker (Pa.), DeLay ruled with an iron hand, whipping the House Republicans into blind loyalty, and earning the nickname, “The Hammer”.

DeLay, with his “take no prisoner” style of ruling, is also credited with building up Washington’s K Street Lobbying industry, turning it into a Republican money machine.

DeLay forced lobbying firms to hire former Republican politicians and staffers, often doling out legislative favors. For firms that crossed DeLay, or hired and gave money to Democrats, DeLay punished them, stalling or killing off in committee any of their legislative efforts.

Cloud of Controversy and Indictments Still Hover

DeLay, whose resignation from Congress comes on the heels of his former deputy chief of staff, Tony Rudy, pleading guilty to conspiracy and corruption charges. Rudy told federal prosecutors that criminal activity was run out of House Leader DeLay’s Congressional office, placing the Jack Abramoff scandal directly next to the, now, former Representative.

Another DeLay staffer, Michael Scanlon, his former press secretary, has also pleaded guilty in the Abramoff Scandal. DeLay once said of Scanlon that he is "one of my closest and dearest friends."

DeLay also continues to face indictment in Texas, for money laundering and campaign finance violations, which forced him to relinquish his House Leadership post.

In an interview with Time Magazine, published on their website last evening, DeLay said that he wasn’t doing this for himself, but for his district in Texas.

"This had become a referendum on me," he told Time. "So it's better for me to step aside and let it be a referendum on ideas, Republican values and what's important for this district."

President Still Bristling At Republicans, Will Present DeLay Medal In Full Session

Still bristling from the Congressional rebuke of his Dubai Ports World Deal, sources close to the White House tell The Garlic that President Bush is planning on presenting the Medal of Freedom Award in a full session of the Congress – both the House and Senate – to send a message to the wayward Republicans.

“It obvious the DeLay told the President before the news broke,” said David Aaronson, editor of 'What Color Is My Coat Today?’ the Capital Hill Newsletter that tracks politicians who turn on their own party. “But it’s hard to say whose idea it was to give “The Hammer” the medal – was it the President? Cheney? Or maybe, this has the fingerprints of the new guy, Joshua Bolton.”

Ann Mitchell, veteran Capital Hill journalist, sees this as an “exit gesture” from Andy Card .

“This has Andy written all over it,” offered Mitchell. “This is big-stage marketing and that was Andy’s department.”

Awarding the Medal of Freedom to a controversial figure is not new for President Bush.

Back in 2004, President Bush awarded the Medal of Freedom to former CIA Director George Tenet, retired Gen. Tommy Franks and former Iraqi administrator L. Paul Bremer, saying "This honor goes to three men who have played pivotal roles in great events, and whose efforts have made our country more secure and advanced the cause of human liberty."

Both, at the time of receiving the medals, and since, all three recipients have been heavily criticized for their errors, misrepresentations and inept handling of situations regarding the War in Iraq.

“Standard operating procedure for the Administration,” said Aaronson. “The more you screw up, the more likely you are to be promoted or commended.”

DeLay, the Lobbyist?

Delay, upon hearing the news last evening, said he was touched by the President’s gesture.

“Boy, this is really something ... I couldn’t buy this with all of Abramoff’s money. I’m going to be able to leverage this big-time.”

DeLay said that he is not sure of what is next move will be, first taking some time off to “reflect on some things” and evaluate opportunities.

Along with spending more time with the new “War on Christianity”, the former House Leader said he expects he will keep his financial interest in the K Street projects.

He said he hasn’t ruled out becoming a lobbyist himself and using his experience, and his strong-arm techniques, to bring religion and government closer together.
“Wouldn’t that kick up some dust,” said DeLay.

President Bush is planning on awarding former House Leader Tom Delay the Congressional Medal of Freedom Award, saying in a statement today that "Tom DeLay is what is good about America"

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