Column: The Hammer gets nailed, and deservedly so
AUSTIN, Texas -- For once, I actually agree with something that with Tom DeLay said. The former Republican leader of Congress recently declared in his most somber tone, "The criminalization of politics undermines our very system." Wow, so true, Tommy.
Of course, what I mean by the "criminalization of politics" is very different than what he means. DeLay was bemoaning the stunning fact that a Texas jury had just convicted him on two felony counts of money laundering. He wailed that he was a victim of a political vendetta by Texas Democrats, calling his prosecution "an abuse of power."
Amazing. Here's a guy who became Congress' most powerful member by blatantly using his position of public trust to broker campaign cash from a myriad of corporations in exchange for passing their legislation. He went on worldwide golfing junkets with lobbyists aboard corporate jets, plotted legislative strategy with disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff, enjoyed lavish meals on the corporate tab, and collected millions of dollars for the GOP's campaign coffers from lobbyists, all while moving the special-interest agenda of his corporate benefactors through Congress.
Yet, he's whining about "an abuse of power"?
Yes, Tom, politics has been criminalized. It's been turned into a criminal enterprise funded by corporations for corporations. Reprobate politicos like you have turned the People's House into a shameful pay-to-play parlor.
DeLay was so good at hitting up corporate lobbyists for money, then pounding their wish list into law, that he was nicknamed "The Hammer." But now, The Hammer's been nailed -- not by Democrats, but by a jury of 12 common citizens, whom his own hot-shot lawyers helped select. These honest people diligently sifted through reams of evidence and ultimately saw him for what he is: a felon.
Jim Hightower is a radio commentator, writer, and public speaker. He's also editor of the populist newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown.