The departure of Tom DeLay

Tom DeLay has been an effective partisan organiser, but a dreadful idealogue. The original GOP House leadership team - Gingrich, Armey, DeLay, and Boehner, was balanced about right. Three leaders committed to radical reform and an effective machine politician in the whip's office.

Gingrich and Boehner fell away after the the 1998 elections, and DeLay shifted his lieutenant into the Speaker's Chair. When Dick Armey quit Congress DeLay moved up to Majority Leader and put another lieutenant into his old job. Now Boehner is back, but DeLay's placemen - Denny Hastert as Speaker and Roy Blunt as Whip - are still there. If we are to see radical reform from Congress the leadership team still needs some stiffening. There has been talk of making Rep John Shaddegg Assistant Majority Leader, which would certainly be a good move.

More to the point, the Senate also needs ideological backbone. In 1994, when Gingrich swept aside the old 'seniority' rule - which committee chairmanships to the longest serving member, not the best qualified, Bob Dole left that rule in place in the Senate. The rule has survived the leadership of Trent Lott and Bill Frist. It really has to go. Perhaps Frist, who is not seeking re-election to the Senate this November, should step aside, to let a new Senate leadership team take place. Senators should find a place in it for Tom Coburn of Oklahoma.

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