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Opinion: Tom DeLay should step aside to help GOP

"If Tom DeLay survives his legal battles and returns as House majority leader, it will in large measure be because the conservative base was not willing to throw him over the side. Conservatives want a fighter in Congress, someone who doesn't apologize for sharing their ideas; and Mr. DeLay, a k a "The Hammer," has long promised to be that man.

If he isn't the architect of conservative policy that he is made out to be, it won't be long before conservatives start thinking that they can live without him. From there, it's a short leap to the conclusion that conservatism might not be able to live with Mr. DeLay.

That is a conclusion that is increasingly hard to escape. It may be true that Mr. DeLay is being hounded for political reasons by a partisan prosecutor in Austin, Texas. It certainly is true that Democrats are bitter with him. But the hard reality is that he is becoming a serious drag on the conservative movement he purports to serve. Polls reveal that voters are willing to trust Democrats on taxes and spending--once bedrock Republican issues. Without a clear agenda and a strong leadership team, congressional Republicans aren't going to regain control of their destiny.

The DeLay drag also includes introducing the public to lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who drew wide public attention after it was revealed he once took Mr. DeLay on a lavish junket to Britain, including a golf outing at St. Andrews. No one has proved any impropriety, but Mr. DeLay's public image took a hit. Mr. Abramoff is back in the news now for reportedly offering the West African nation of Gabon a $9 million contract to set up a meeting with President Bush. There's no evidence Gabon ever signed the contract or paid Mr. Abramoff; and the White House denies any connection to Mr. Abramoff. Nonetheless some journalists are having a field day with the story because Mr. Bush met with Gabon's President Omar Bongo in May 2004. If this story gains legs, Mr. Bush can thank his beleaguered Republican friend, Tom DeLay."

Get the Story:
Brendan Miniter: Needed: A New Leader (The Wall Street Journal 11/15)

Relevant Links:
Rep. Tom DeLay -

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