"If you've seen a chicken in the barnyard get a peck on his head so a little blood is showing, then the other chickens all rush in and peck him to death, that is the danger for Tom DeLay right now. He's got a little blood on his head, and sometimes that is enough to get you killed."
-- Charlie Wilson
Charlie Wilson was my congressman for 25 years. He represented the 2nd district of Texas when it still represented the southeastern counties of the state. I mean deep east Texas, where the piney woods still hide moonshine stills and the most fun a teenage boy can have on a Saturday night is to go hunting deer with a spotlight in his pickup. You may remember him as "Good Time Charlie", who usually had a bottle blonde on his arm and a cocktail in his hand. Or as the saviour of the mujahideen, the Afghanistan rebels who kicked the first leg out from under the Soviet Union.
Charlie's a lobbyist now, has been since he retired from Congress in '97. Which means he's plugged snugly into the rumor mill. Republicans always liked him because he was a staunch anti-communist; Democrats because he was liberal on domestic issues like fiscal and social policy (more so even than the rest of the Texas delegation, which once upon a time was as overwhelmingly Democratic as it is Republican today). So he's in an enviable position in that everybody talks to him.
If the Wall Street Journal and Charlie Wilson say Tom DeLay's in serious trouble, you can bank that.
"My conservative colleagues rely heavily on the Wall Street Journal, but recognize the paper has an agenda different than social conservatives," said Richard Viguerie, a pioneer in conservative political direct mail and founder of the Conservative Digest magazine. "The Journal is concerned about stable leadership for big business," said Viguerie. "But for (social) conservatives, DeLay is one of our own. He walks with us."
And there's also this:
"He can raise money for them, he can get them important leadership assignments, he can help them get re-elected," said Michael Franc, a government expert for the conservative Heritage Foundation. "In return, there are about 200 members of the House who are willing to lay their bodies on the line for him."
I'm pretty much convinced at this point that until those 200 Republicans feel it necessary to make a change, there won't be a change. And they probably won't feel it necessary unless there is an indictment.
And if that drags all the way out to the 2006 elections, that might be a very good thing for Democrats.