DELAY INC….Jon Chait on the DeLay-ization of the Republican party:

When a politician is enmeshed in scandal, it usually has little to do with the regular way he conducts himself in office….The indictment of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) is another matter entirely. It’s hard to imagine how DeLay could function without at least coming very close to breaking the law. His indictment is an indictment of the whole way the Republican Party operates.

….The central vision of DeLayism is of a political system whereby business gains almost total control over the Republican agenda, and in return the GOP gains unlimited financial influence over the electoral process.

….You could easily have had a Democratic president carrying out Clinton’s program without dipping into the intern pool. Somebody could do Frist’s job just as well without trading (allegedly) on inside stock information. But you simply cannot fulfill DeLay’s responsibilities without wallowing in sleaze.

Corporate support has always been an integral part of the Republican party, of course, but not since the turn of the century has it been so open and so openly sleazy. This is not a coincidence. In fact, recreating that era has long been one of Karl Rove’s pet projects:

Much was made during the 2000 campaign of Rove’s appreciation of Mark Hanna, the late-nineteenth-century industrialist who, as the political genius of the McKinley operation, remade the Republican Party….Hanna’s strategy was to align voters not by class but by sector. Industrialists and urban workers both benefited from the tariffs that McKinley championed….Even though those industrialists paid their workers a miserably low wage, Hanna found common ground between these two conflicting classes ? and there built a Republican coalition that lasted for more than 30 years.

Follow the Bush White House over the past few months and it’s apparent that Rove grows more Hanna-like by the week.

Hanna was the money man of the turn-of-the-century Republican party, and the ironclad ? and mutually beneficial ? relationship he built between the party and its favored industrialists has been recreated in uncanny detail a century later by conservative leaders like Rove, DeLay, Grover Norquist, and, of course, DeLay’s replacement, Roy Blunt.

In fact, each succeeding generation of conservative leadership has become ever more dependent on this relationship, to the point where it’s literally hard to know where the party stops and its corporate paymasters begin. In the words of Rep. Mike Rogers, who worked with Blunt on last year’s obscene pander-fest of a tax bill, the way to get the bill passed was simply to keep adding tax breaks until every possible industry was satisfied. As new tax breaks were added to the bill, the vote count “just got better and better,” he said. “It was incredible.”

Oink oink.

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