Government by the Party, for the Party, and of the Party – Part 1b, The Double High House of Delay

Twenty years after the Republican take over of the House, it was time for Gingrich to leave and let the next aggressive authoritarian take over and continue the transformation of the House to support a single party system. According to John Dean, Paul Weyrich had this to say about the former Speaker of the House, “Newt Gingrich is the first conservative I have ever known who knows how to use power.” John then concluded with, “In fact, there was someone else Weyrich would come to know who used power even more aggressively and ruthlessly than Gingrich: Tom Delay.”

Tom Delay - Wikipedia
Tom Delay – Served: 1984-2006, 1994-2006 as Majority Whip/Leader
Family Background
From Wikipedia, “DeLay has declined to comment on reports in The New Yorker that he is estranged from much of his family, including his mother and one of his brothers. DeLay has not spoken to his younger brother, Randy, a Houston lobbyist, since 1996, when a complaint to the House Ethics Committee prompted Tom DeLay to cut his brother off in order to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest.”
From New York Times June, 1999, “My father was a wildcatter typecast straight out of the movie ‘Giant’. He was a boisterous, domineering alcoholic. We were not exactly an ideal family.” He went on to say, “I was a real jerk when I got elected. Me, me, me. My job was my religion and I was mistreating my wife and daughter.”
Authoritarian Traits –
“By the time we finish this poker game, there may not be a federal government left, which would suit me just fine.”
John Dean writes, “Tom Delay’s Double High authoritarian personality offers an almost textbook example of the four defining elements of a social dominator: the tendency to dominate; opposition to equality; desire for personal power; and amorality. … Delay, in a pattern followed by many Double High authoritarians, became a born-again Christian in 1984.”
From The Two Faces of Tom Delay, “his actions have been corrupt, illegal and unethical. “
According to John Dean, “Delay’s opposition to equality is less conspicuous, but it is certainly evident in the Texas redistricting plan he brokered ….”. Relative to District 23, 5 justices agreed that the Voting Rights Act had been violated.
From Chris Shays, “If it wasn’t illegal to do it, even if it was clearly wrong and unethical, and in some cases it was even illegal, they still did it. There are a lot of people who cozied up to Tom because he had so much say in their lives as a legislator and they’re going to be hurt by it.”
Relative to Tom Delay’s control of K-Street lobbyists and getting a liberal, Dave McCurdy, fired from the Electronic Industries Association lobby, John Dean wrote, “Extortion is not something that registers easily with a Double High authoritarian who is busy manipulating the world.”
Infamous Deeds
According Robert Kuttner’s America is a One-Party State, “The United States could become a nation in which the dominant party rules for a prolonged period, marginalizes a token opposition and is extremely difficult to dislodge because democracy itself is rigged. This would be unprecedented in U.S. history.” Under the section titled Legislative Dictatorship, Kuttner stated, “Political scientists used to describe America’s Congress as a de facto four-party system. There were national Democrats, mostly liberals; “Dixiecrats,” who often voted with Republicans (Congressional Quarterly called this the conservative coalition and tabulated its frequent wins); conservative Republicans; and moderate-to-liberal “gypsy moth” Republicans, who selectively voted with Democrats.” The following is also from Kuttner’s analysis.
Extreme Centralization – “The power to write legislation has been centralized in the House Republican leadership. Concretely, that means DeLay and House Speaker Dennis Hastert’s chief of staff, Scott Palmer, working with the House Committee on Rules. (Hastert is seen in some quarters as a figurehead, but his man Palmer is as powerful as DeLay.) Drastic revisions to bills approved by committee are characteristically added by the leadership, often late in the evening. Under the House rules, 48 hours are supposed to elapse before floor action. But in 2003, the leadership, 57 percent of the time, wrote rules declaring bills to be “emergency” measures, allowing then to be considered with as little as 30 minutes notice. On several measures, members literally did not know what they were voting for.”
No Amendments – “DeLay has used the rules process both to write new legislation that circumvents the hearing process and to all but eliminate floor amendments for Republicans and Democrats alike. The Rules Committee, controlled by the Republican leadership, writes a rule specifying the terms of debate for every bill that reaches the House floor. When Democrats controlled the House, Republicans complained bitterly when the occasional bill did not allow for open floor amendments. In 1995, Republicans pledged reform. Gerald Solomon, the new Republican chairman of the committee, explicitly promised that at least 70 percent of bills would come to the floor with rules permitting amendments. Instead, the proportion of bills prohibiting amendments has steadily increased, from 56 percent during the 104th Congress (1995-97) to 76 percent in 2003. This comparison actually understates the shift, because virtually all major bills now come to the floor with rules prohibiting amendments.”
One-Party Conferences – The Senate still allows floor amendments, but Senate-passed bills must go to conference with the House. Democratic House and Senate conferees are increasingly barred from attending conference committees, unless they are known turncoats. On the Medicare bill, liberal Democratic Senate conferees Tom Daschle and Jay Rockefeller were excluded. The more malleable Democrats John Breaux and Max Baucus, however, were allowed in. [See Matthew Yglesias, “Bad Max,” page 11.] All four House Democratic conferees were excluded. Republican House and Senate conferees work out their intraparty differences, work their respective caucuses and send the (nonamendable) bill back to each house for a quick up-or-down vote. On the Medicare bill, members had one day to study a measure of more than 1,000 pages, much of it written from scratch in conference.
No Legislative Hearings – “Before the DeLay revolution, drafting new legislation in conference committee was almost unknown. But under DeLay, major provisions of the Medicare bill sprang fully grown from a conference committee. Republicans got a conference to include a weakened media-concentration standard that had been explicitly voted down by each house separately. Though both chambers had voted to block an administration measure watering down overtime-pay protections for workers, the provision was tacked onto a must-pass bill in conference. The official summary of House procedures, written by the (Republican-appointed) House parliamentarian and updated in June 2003, notes: ‘The House conferees are strictly limited in their consideration to matters in disagreement between the two Houses. Consequently, they may not strike out or amend any portion of the bill that was not amended by the other House. Furthermore, they may not insert new matter that is not germane to or that is beyond the scope of the differences between the two Houses.’ Like the rights guaranteed in the Soviet constitution, these rules are routinely waived.”
Appropriation Bill Abuses – “Appropriations bills are must-pass affairs, otherwise the government eventually shuts down. Traditionally, substantive legislation is enacted in the usual way, then the appropriations process approves all or part of the funding. There has long been modest abuse in the form of earmarked money for pet pork-barrel projects and substantive riders being tacked onto appropriations bills. But since Gingrich, a lot of substantive bill drafting has been centralized in House leadership task forces appointed by the majority leader. And under DeLay, Appropriations subcommittee chairs must now be approved by the leadership, as well as by the Appropriations chairman.

“…DeLay has made the railroading systematic.

“To enforce party discipline, the DeLay operation has also perfected a technique known as ‘catch and release.’ On close pending votes, the House Republican Whip Organization, with dozens of regional whips, will target, say, the 20 to 30 Republican members known to oppose the legislation. When the leadership gets a final head count and determines just how many votes are needed, some will be reeled in and others let off the hook and given permission to vote ‘no.’

“In short, some of these maneuvers had embryonic antecedents, but under DeLay differences in degree have mutated into an alarming difference in kind. Wright’s regime lasted just one congressional session. It ended unceremoniously when a minor ethics breach (Wright’s bulk sales of his book) was bootstrapped into a major scandal by a Republican back-bencher named Gingrich, leading to Wright’s resignation and his replacement by the far less partisan Tom Foley, and then to the Democrats’ loss of the House in 1994. DeLay’s regime shows every sign of going on and on and on — with abuses of which the Democrats never dreamed.”

John Dean, while referencing the Wall Street Journal, concluded with, “at the end of 2005 there were a staggering 13,998 earmarked expenses, costing $27.3 billion. When the Republicans took control [of the House] in 1995 there were only 1,439 earmarked items. Needless to say, there is nothing conservative in these fiscal actions but there is much that is authoritarian about the wanton spending by these Republicans.”
According to John Ydstie, “Tom DeLay was elected Majority Whip by his Republican colleagues after they took control in 1994. Almost immediately, he launched a program seeing to it that the Republicans stayed in power. It was called the ‘K Street Project’ …. The goal was to make K Street a Republican bastion so that the money contributed by K Street’s rich political action committees flowed only to Republicans.”
In September 2004, The Economist, “by gerrymandering to cram Democrats into a smaller number of super-safe seats … while spreading Republicans into a larger number of ‘designer districts which they win by 55-60%,” the Republicans have created a permanent majority and re-election rate of 99% which “North Korea might be proud of ….”
The One-vote Victory – From Juliet Eilperin, “Time and again, on high-profile bills involving Medicare, education and other programs, Hastert and his lieutenants [Tom Delay, Roy Blunt and other GOP leaders] have calibrated the likely yeas and nays to the thinnest margin possible, enabling them to push legislation as much to their liking as they can in a narrowly divided and bitterly partisan House.”



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About Andy Hailey

Vietnam Vet, UT El Paso Grad, Retired Aerospace Engineer, former union rep, 60's Republican now progressive, web admin, blogger.

2 Responses to Government by the Party, for the Party, and of the Party – Part 1b, The Double High House of Delay

  1. Andy Hailey says:

    Tom’s Distructive Legacy:
    Another part of the restructuring of our House of Representatives and trying to create a single-party system was the elimination of 138 years of seniority from our Congress. This came about by Tom Delay’s out-of-sequence redistricting in his home state of Texas. Steve Bickerstaff summarized it this way: “For this, Texans will pay a regrettable price for at least the remainder of this decade. There is no legitimate role for such blind, ruthless partisanship (Republican or Democratic) in good government at the state or federal level. DeLay left a sad legacy for Texans and America.”

    For more, see Lines in the Sand: Congressional Redistricting in Texas and the Influence of Tom DeLay

  2. Pingback: The WAWG Blog » Foley Sex Scandal and Tom Delay’s Little Black Book - To What Extent Did Tom Manipulate His Fellow Authoritarians?