Monday, April 10, 2006


A DeLay Post-Mortem

A former staffer for Tom DeLay gives a muted defense of his old boss.

Ex-press secretary John Feehery puts the blame squarely on "rogue" aides Ed Buckham, Tony Rudy and Michael Scanlon.

I know Feehery, having worked with him while in Speaker Gingrich's office. It doesn't surprise me that he -- as described here -- was wary of Buckham and Co. As Feehery describes it, "[Buckham] was also forceful in promoting the evangelical beliefs he shared with DeLay. There were times when he would gather the staff for prayer." Feehery was -- and is -- a Catholic and while Catholics certainly pray, many of them tend to be less visible in their public displays of faith than evangelicals.

But, more significantly, Feehery always seemed like a straight shooter (I never had much contact with Buckham) and it doesn't seem unusual that he would try to distance himself from staff members who seemed somewhat less than honest.

However, I think John may be a bit naive if he concludes that DeLay's problems come down to having "staff members run amok."

Indeed, the anecdote he relates on the 1997 failed coup of Speaker Newt Gingrich seems like a snapshot of what may well have happened later in the legal area: Buckham was clearly nudging DeLay into helping participate in the removal of Gingrich -- and DeLay clearly was involved in it and suggested to the anti-Gingrich forces that he was on board. However when everything fell apart, Buckham tried to get DeLay to pin everything on Armey; Feehery tried to get him to be contrite. At the end of the day, according to Feehery, "Tom fessed up to his own role while also implicating Armey."

In short, Tom DeLay is hardly Othello and Ed Buckham is hardly Iago. One doesn't get to be majority whip or majority leader by being easily plied by staff members. Tom DeLay surrounded himself with an inner circle of staff that reflected his own way of gaining and retaining power.

We've seen what's happened to a couple of them -- whether that fate awaits their former boss remains to be seen.

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