Tom Edsall, guest-opining for the New York Time$ thinks the Republicans have just made a mistake the Democrats ought to capitalize on:
Last Friday, the Republicans gave the Democrats a gift that will keep on giving: Roy Blunt of Missouri.
After an election repudiating the politics of Jack Abramoff and Tom DeLay, Republicans elevated Blunt from the number three spot in the leadership to number two.
Roy Blunt embodies the insidious, half-legal corruption that has permeated the G.O.P. majority since 1995. Blunt’s election as minority whip, by a 137-to-57 margin, was a defiant Republican rejection of calls to clean up their act. Warnings by Blunt’s challenger, John Shadegg of Arizona — “We ceded our reform-minded principles in exchange for a …tighter grip on power” — went unheeded.
In 1998, DeLay put Blunt on the leadership ladder, making him chief deputy whip. Blunt modeled himself on DeLay, creating an identical network of state and federal political committees that raised money from the same lobbyists, corporations and trade associations that financed what became known as DeLay Inc.
If one political operation captured the essence of DeLay’s leadership, it was the Republican takeover of Washington’s influence-peddling industry. This industry, grossing $2.36 billion last year alone, eagerly accommodated DeLay’s demands to replace Democratic lobbyists and association executives with Republicans. In a mutually rewarding relationship, lobbyists who financed DeLay Inc. wrote amendments and bills, while DeLay received a flood of cash to build a multimillion-dollar network of PACs. These committees lavished contributions, corporate jets and year-round entertainment on Republican House members, ensuring their loyalty, and channeled cash into local political parties, helping to win control of state legislatures that, in turn, gerrymandered districts to implement a long-term strategy of larger G.O.P. Congressional majorities.