Republicans run the show in Washington these days, but they still aren't happy. William Kristol and Jeffrey Bell whine in the Weakly, Standard that conservatives are being "criminalized." "THE MOST EFFECTIVE CONSERVATIVE LEGISLATOR of--oh--the last century or so, Congressman Tom DeLay, was indicted last month for allegedly violating Texas campaign finance laws, . . . Bill Frist, is under investigation by the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission for his sale of stock in the medical company his family started. White House deputy chief of staff Karl Rove and vice presidential chief of staff Scooter Libby have been under investigation by a special federal prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald, for more than two years . . . It now seems clear that Rove and Libby are the main targets of the prosecutor, and that both are in imminent danger of indictment."
They are all under investigation according to Kristol and Bell because of their effectiveness as conservative leaders. "Since 2001, they have been among the most prominent promoters of the conservative agenda of the Bush administration." This is plausible in the Delay case, since his case grows out his scheme to redistrict Texas for the benefit of Republicans. But Frist? If there is any conspiracy involving his investigation, wouldn't it be of conservatives trying to get rid of an incompetent hack?
Rove and Libby are being investigated for illegally leaking so Kristol/Bell complain about the leaking of others at CIA and the State Dept. without making a specific charges. If K/B know of any crimes they should alert the proper authorities. But they are just engaging in partisan special pleading.
The article is notable for the name that it doesn't mention -- Jack Abramoff. Abramoff is a prominent conservative under indictment and facing more investigations. An article by Michael Crowley in the Oct. 17 issue of The New Republic argues that it will be the Abramoff connection that does Delay in. "Unfortunately for DeLay and loyal optimists around him, the real threat to his career doesn't lie with the Earle indictment. It lies with the ongoing Justice Department and House ethics committee investigations of DeLay's super-lobbyist buddy Jack Abramoff . . . [the] Justice Department investigators are keenly interested in DeLay's personal role in the Abramoff Saga . . ."
Apparently the notion that Republicans and conservatives, who came to power in congress promising reform, have simply become corrupted by both their power and their desire to hold on to it is unthinkable. Instead Kristol and Bell suggest that "it's a reasonable bet that the fall of 2005 will be remembered as a time when it became clear that a comprehensive strategy of criminalization had been implemented to inflict defeat on conservatives who seek to govern as conservatives. And it is clear that thinking through a response to this challenge is a task conservatives can no longer postpone."
I think that it's a reasonable bet that the fall of '05 will be rembered as the time when the chickens of Republican sleaze came home to roost just the way it did for the Democrats in the early 1990s.