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There will be a DeLay in fixing ethics problem - Bob Paslay

The more I learned about and watched the late Arizona U.S. Senator Barry Goldwater the more I liked him. I know it is in vogue to believe all people like you are saints and all those from the other side are devils. Goldwater was a man who believed what he said and said exactly what he believed.

When the nation's toad president Richard Nixon was floundering around trying to find anyway possible to hold onto the office he had besmirched, Goldwater, also a Republican, told him emphatically (my words), "Mr. President. We don't have the votes in the Senate to win an impeachment. You have got to go." When someone asked Goldwater, one of the staunchest supporters of the military, about gays in the military, he said, "I don't care if they are straight. I only care if they can shoot straight."

Goldwater was no parrot for anyone and for that he has earned my undying admiration.

I am a dual person, on the one hand jaded and cynical and believing if someone can do the wrong thing they will. And on the other hand I have a little boy's belief that people will see the light and do the right thing, regardless of other factors.

I say all of this because Congress needs a few more Barry Goldwaters, especially in this House Majority Leader Tom DeLay case. There is mounting evidence that DeLay is out on an ethics limb that is too weak to support him. Everything from improperly funded trips to other conduct has him under investigation in his home state of Texas.

Republicans have circled the wagons, passing special legislation in January that allows him to keep serving even if he is in an ethics swamp. The prosecutor in Texas, who happens to be a Democrat, is accused of blatant political revenge by investigating DeLay. In his defense, he says he has taken down dozens of Democrats and only a handful of Republicans and he is just doing his job.

Added to DeLay's mounting problems are his comments in the recent Florida plug or unplug controversy in which he essentially said that judges who ruled against the Schiavo family ought to be removed and punished. Clearly he insinuated that the legislative branch ought to punish and subjugate the judicial branch in a nation that has three equal branches of government. Earlier this week he tried to back away from his earlier comments when President Bush even started distancing himself. DeLay has also said he will have no further comment at his weekly press briefings on his own ethics problems. This flashes me back to Nixon's famous statements that he had said all he was going to say about Watergate, hoping against hope that the whole issue would just go away.

I ask myself in this DeLay Titanic ethics problem: WWBD? or What would Barry do? And the only answer I can come up with is that he would tell the Republican leader: "You are dragging down the party and diverting attention away from our agenda. You made your own bed of bad ethics and you are going to have to give it up and make way for an ethical leader. You failed the system and all you can do from now on is do harm."

Why do I think they will do? The little gee whiz wide-eyed believes in the system boy in me says key Republicans will do what Barry would do. But the jaded cynic says they will do what they have been doing – circle the wagons and try to ride it out. It is going to be ironic that the very legal system for which DeLay has no respect is the system that is going to bring him down. The legislative branch, which he sees as riding roughshod over the judges, is not going to be able to save him. It is a system strong enough to not be permanently harmed by DeLay, but buckle your seat belts, it is going to be a very bumpy ride before the unethical passenger is kicked off the plane.

Bob Paslay is assistant managing editor of the News Daily and Daily Herald. He can be reached at (770) 478-5753 Ext. 257 or bpaslay@news-daily.com .