The last refuge

It’s no longer patriotism; it’s religion, or rather religiosity.

Rumor has it that Tom DeLay’s next gig (while waiting for the prosecutors to drop the other shoe) will be with Rick Scarborough’s theocratic Vision America. DeLay is already portraying himself as a victim of the “war on Christians.”

Dr. Johnson’s dictum out of date. Patriotism is no longer the last refuge of a scoundrel, because it’s where the scoundrels start out. The last refuge of a scoundrel, whether the scoundrel’s name is Colson, Abramoff, or DeLay, is now religion.

Footnotes In another act of GOP Calvinball, DeLay will change his legal residence from Texas to Virginia, thus allowing his buddies back home to anoint an official Republican candidate in his place, which would otherwise be impossible under Texas law since DeLay already won the primary. I think it’s fair that the voters have a choice, but it’s also typical that DeLay should act to get around the rules. As Stuart Levine and others point out, one motivation for DeLay’s withdrawal from the race is that he can now use his $1.3 million campaign warchest as a legal defense fund.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact:

4 thoughts on “The last refuge”

  1. GOP Calvinball?
    To my mind, this is somewhat less disreputable than the events that proceeded from the demise of Robert Torricelli and the subsequent last-minute substitution of Frank Lautenberg.
    It's one thing when a bad actor plays the law to his advantage. It's another thing when the, ahem, "impartial judiciary" mangles the law beyond recognition.

  2. This isn't a Torricelli style situation where the rules are inconvenient, so you just go to court to get them overturned; The moving out of the state dodge is just a case of exploiting the rules as they already are, not getting around them.
    That said, if DeLay ends up in prison, I won't be the least bit upset; If the laws of this nation were being impartially enforced against members of Congress, they'd probably find it hard to get a quorum together… My only gripe is that he won't have enough company.

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