The Hammer, Tom DeLay, faced up to the Jack Abramoff beatdown today and announced he would step aside as House Majority Leader.
“Today I have asked Speaker (Dennis) Hastert to convene our conference for the purpose of electing a new majority leader,” DeLay, a close ally of President George W. Bush and one of the most powerful conservatives in Congress, said in a letter to House Republican leaders.
Well, we can still count on the Hammer for comic relief, as he goes on to show in the letter:
“In 21 years in Congress I have always acted in an ethical manner ... and time once again will bear out that truth.”
Of course, he’s not been that chastened yet. DeLay said he was still running for reelection. Well, maybe that door will start swinging soon enough.
Acting Majority Leader Roy Blunt, who sometimes makes DeLay look tame, is a candidate to take the job on permanently. So is somewhat more civil conservative Ohio Republican John Boehner. No word on if any allegedly “moderate” Republicans will run.
Nor has Speaker Dennis Hastert tipped his hand as to whom he would like to see in the position.
Meanwhile, here’s a few things to parse from the Hammer’s press conference:
But my first job has always been and it will remain to represent the people of the 22nd district. I have worked very hard to meet their needs and serve their values in Washington. Those needs and values will now best be served by allowing House Republicans to set a new course and to unite behind a new and focused leader.
Translation: This controversy is becoming too distracting. Even I recognize, bullheaded as I am, that it threatens my chance for reelection.
I will continue to serve my constituents by reclaiming my seat on the appropriations committee from which I will work to meet the needs of the 22nd district, including improved transportation infrastructure, homeland security and a fully funded space program.Translation: I will therefore concentrate on bringing home massive amounts of pork between now and November to grease the skids of my reelection campaign.