THE DELAY MELTDOWN….David Brooks says that the ground has shifted under Tom DeLay’s feet:

It’s shifted because many House Republicans know that DeLay has been playing close to the ethical edge for years. They’ve noticed the number of scandals ? the latest involving lobbying fees for some Indian casinos ? that trace back to DeLay cronies.

….Tom DeLay is a scandal waiting to happen. He casts himself as the enemy of Washington, but he’s really a conventional (if effective) pol who wants to use dollars to entrench power. He represents the greatest danger the Republicans face, bossism. He wants to be the G.O.P.’s Boss Tweed.

….When people start gossiping about what the world would be like if you were gone ? as Republicans are now starting to do with DeLay ? you are in the first stages of political decline. It means that members start regarding you with a little less awe, and they start regarding your potential successors with a little more.

What’s weird about Brooks’ piece is that while he ruminates about why more members haven’t stood up to DeLay, he shies away from stating the obvious: DeLay raises a ton of money for his colleagues. Even if it’s not the whole story, it’s certainly a big part of it.

For more on DeLay, Josh Marshall is having a lot of fun trying to track down which House members voted to protect DeLay and which ones stuck with their consciences. I emailed my congressman, Chris Cox, the fourth-ranking Republican in the House, but I haven’t heard back. A friend called and left voice mail, but she hasn’t heard back either. Maybe we’ll get replies on Monday….

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