Follow the Leader: The Right and its Big Night for Tom DeLay

Was the House leader's tribute dinner really a goodbye party?

| June 9, 2005

Sometimes it's fun to watch the chickens come home to roost. Or at least witness it vicariously through others.

That's the not-so-guilty pleasure Lou Dubose provides in his Texas Observer account of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's 'lifetime achievement' banquet, which reads like a debutante ball for a girl who just got caught with her hoop skirt over her head and is headed for social purgatory.

The popular kids -- House Speaker Dennis Hastert, conservative icon Jesse Helms, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist -- didn't show, nor did more than 200 of the 233 members of the House Republican Conference. The 'true believers' made it -- the young marchers who toil at the conservative movement's nonprofit foundations. Perhaps they came to support DeLay's 'remake' as 'a regular guy beloved by the folks back home.' Or maybe it was, as one of the youthful, moderately inebriated guests put it, 'Just the freeeeee tickets!'

Either way, for Dubose, the event was reminiscent of 'A Salute to Newt' -- a kind of going-out ball for a soon-to-be defrocked politico. That could be wishful thinking. But as the myriad investigations into sketchy lobbyists linked to DeLay gain steam, a few Republicans are gearing up to take DeLay's spot. '[They] have every reason to believe DeLay is on his way out,' Dubose writes. 'They know the majority leader is always a bad story about to break in The Washington Post.'
-- Hannah Lobel

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