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Betrayal of Trust

I took gladly the news of Tom DeLay’s conviction for money laundering in violation of campaign finance laws. A friend points out that he was convicted under Texan law, not federal law, and so is likely to be pardoned by the governor, a product of the same corrupt system. We shall see. But at least some of our courts remain something other than party-political instruments.

Convicted felon Tom DeLay, unsurprisingly, disagrees. He portrays his conviction as a political act and nothing more, a villainous strike by his political enemies.

““This is an abuse of power,” he said. “It’s a miscarriage of justice. I still maintain my innocence. The criminalization of politics undermines our very system.”

Excuse me? Objection to the “criminalization of politics” from the man who equated mere dissent with the gravest crime the Constitution recognizes?

“I think Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi are getting very very close to treason…For the Majority Leader of the United States Senate in a time of war, with soldiers dying on the ground, announcing that we have lost the war, is very close to treasonous. I looked it up while we were driving over here, the definition of treason, it’s the betrayal of trust.”

Betrayal of trust.

I suppose we should be used to it by now, especially since DeLay is one of the major architects of the culture of corruption. Flimsy accusations that Democrats are committing some misdeed even as Republicans commit that same misdeed on a far grander and more flagrant scale is an important page in the playbook DeLay helped write. So is insisting upon a narrative with no visible connection to reality: DeLay was forced to resign from the Senate while Republicans controlled both houses of Congress, the White House, and the Supreme Court, and he was convicted in a court with a Republican judge. Barefaced lies, even in the face of overwhelming evidence or manifest absurdity, is just business as usual. It’s worked so well since 1980, why stop now?

But maybe DeLay’s complaint isn’t quite a lie. Several wags have pointed out that “criminalizing politics” could have another meaning: that of transforming politics into a criminal enterprise, rather than that of making the opposition’s conduct of politics a crime. That alternate meaning is also going on, and is indeed destroying our country. And now it’s been proven in a court of law that DeLay was part of that process, too.

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