Strange things are afoot at the Circle-K

Everyone knows by now that Representative Tom Delay (temporarily) stepped aside from his role as House Majority Leader because a grand jury indicted him on charges of conspiracy to violate campaign finance laws. I have nothing to add to that, other than he’s innocent until proven guilty and all that. I’m more interested in his (temporary) replacement, California Rep. David Dreier Missouri Rep. Roy Blunt.

The public relations machine is obviously kicking into gear now, stating how Rep. Dreier is this kind of moderate and that kind of conservative whatever they’re saying, which is probably less moderate since Rep. Blunt was Rep. DeLay’s right hand man. [Ed. – The rest of this stands, as I wrote it about Rep. Dreier.] I don’t know much about him and I have no reason to challenge any of that now. I’m open-minded about how he’ll work the system over the next few weeks and months as Rep. DeLay’s indictment plays out. But I suspect the Democratic smear campaign will start by tonight, if it hasn’t already, and I don’t think that’s wise.

Using basic logic, it makes no sense to think that Rep. Dreier Blunt will attempt any bold action in the near future. He can’t reverse the Republican status quo on the budget. (He should, but he won’t.) He can’t ignite the base with any new social red herrings for diversion. (He shouldn’t, but he might.) Any action he takes will be scrutinized relentlessly as an indicator of his leadership skills. He’s a 13-term representative Majority Whip, so he should have some pull, but any bold action would signify that he isn’t just a place holder until Rep. DeLay’s possible return, undermining DeLay’s future leadership. That would work if Rep. DeLay is really done as House Majority Leader, which is certainly a likelihood given his ludicrous statements and conduct. But the current Republican leadership in Congress has shown an eager willingness to circle the wagons around any scandal. I see no reason this will be different. Until Rep. Dreier Blunt shows something bold [Ed. – something that contradicts Rep. DeLay, since every statement will now be that Rep. Blunt is acting as Rep. DeLay would act], I’m holding onto that. If he does, then maybe I’ll take him seriously and focus on what he’ll try to accomplish.

Welcome to your no-win opportunity to lead the House, Rep. Dreier Blunt.

Update: This is rhetorical, but I wonder why the GOP leadership chose Rep. Blunt instead of Rep. Dreier, as Rep. Hastert preferred? Googling Rep. Dreier will likely offer an explanation.