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DeLay’s 1994 Election as House GOP Whip: Harbinger of GOP’s 2006 Defeat

If there was one event which would serve as a harbinger of the Republican Congress’ retreat from its Reaganite principles and defeat in last week’s election, it was the 1994 election for majority whip. After the Republicans won the a majority in the House for the first time in forty years, Pennsylvania’s Robert S. Walker, then-incoming House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s best friend, “was initially favored to win the contest.” But, Tom DeLay, having raised money for many of the newly elected Republicans that year, won 52 votes out of the 73 GOP freshmen in the 104th Congress.

And while DeLay was an effective whip, he was less interested in advancing conservative ideas than was Walker. Five years before his election as Whip, he “managed the campaign” of then-Minority Leader Robert Michel’s choice for party whip, Edward Madigan against Newt Gingrich. That is, he supported the status quo against “the forces of change.”

By contrast, Walker was, with Gingrich, one of the founding members of the Conservative Opportunity Society (COS), a group of House Republicans committed to building on the ideas of Ronald Reagan to build a Republican majority. While committed to the principles which animated the party, the COS was often at odds with the House GOP leadership.

Perhaps had Walker won that election, he might have helped the GOP stand true to the principles he had long promoted. Instead, Tom DeLay sought to retain Republican power by the means the Democrats has used when they were in the majority, building alliances with lobbyists and using earmarks to set-aside pork for the districts of the various representatives. So brazen had DeLay been in pursuit of this agenda that he even set up a web site for his K Street Project, a program which demanded that “lobbying firms seeking access hire loyal Republicans.

Whereas Gingrich and Walker built a Republican majority by appealing to the conservative ideas which had been — and still are* — gaining increasing favor with the American people, DeLay sought to maintain that majority by traditional political means. But, losing sight of principle and relying on “traditional political means” made corruption all the easier. And corruption had a significant impact in last week’s GOP loss. As Karl Rove put it in an interview with Time‘s Mike Allen:

The profile of corruption in the exit polls was bigger than I’d expected. . . . Abramoff, lobbying, Foley and Haggard [the disgraced evangelical leader] added to the general distaste that people have for all things Washington, and it just reached critical mass.

(Via OpinionJournal Political Diary (available by subscription).) Too focused on maintaining their power, House Republicans became cozy with the establishment they had been elected to confront.

And Democrats won this year largely by running against that establishment.

As House Speaker-designate Pelosi supports a man which one left-wing group calls “one of the most unethical members in Congress, Rep. John Murtha (D-PA), to be Majority Leader of the House of Representatives” and backs an impeached federal judge for head of the House Intelligence Panel, it appears she is willing to embrace the corrupt establishment against which her party so recently — and successfully — ran.

But, if my party wishes to recapture the majority, it won’t be enough just to run against the new majority’s casual attitude toward corrupt leaders, our party must return to the principles Gingrich and Walker so effectively championed in the early 1990s. House leadership elections matter. Bob Walker’s loss in 1994 all but guaranteed that the Republicans would lose twelve years hence.

House Republicans should bear that in mind as they prepare to elect new leaders later this week. Earlier this year, I wrote that Indiana’s Mike Pence, has used the House Republican Study Committee, which he chairs, as a “font for new ideas,” similar to the way Gingrich and Walker used the Conservative Opportunity Society. Pence would make a fine Minority leader, committing the party to the ideas Republicans championed in the 1990s.

The Walker loss in 1994 showed us the importance of electing principled Republicans to positions of power. To avoid the mistakes of the last Congress — and to repeat the successes of the 1990s — House Republicans should remember how important conservative ideas are to GOP victories. And how important it is to elect leaders committed to those ideas.

With Democrats uncertain about their agenda, it’s increasingly important that Republicans chose leaders who understand the importance of ideas. And who have fond memories of Ronald Reagan — and who embrace his vision for our great nation.

-B. Daniel Blatt (AKA GayPatriotWest)

*While Michael Barone notes that party identification in this fall’s election favored the Democrats by a margin of 38-36, “36 percent [of voters] identified themselves as conservatives and 21 percent as liberals.” And as I noted in a recent post, a CNN poll, taken just before the election showed that 54 percent of Americans favor smaller government.



  1. The failure of the Republicans to enact term limits, one of the items in the “Contract With America” (which I didn’t support at the time as I saw it as an unnecessary imposition upon the idealogical conservatives just elected) played a direct roll in the electorate’s anti-establishment attitude because it played a direct roll in the arrogance of the Republicans in power.

    Ethics issues, untamed spending and appropriations, even the slow fading of conservative ideas of the elected Republicans could have been eliminated via open primaries that would have resulted from term limits.

    The current crop of Republican leadership has forced me to reconsider my position on the need for term limits as a way to restore ethics and small government conservatives to congress for the long term.

    Comment by LifeTrek — November 14, 2006 @ 4:40 pm - November 14, 2006

  2. But look at their accomplishments… they voted five or six times on the Federal Marriage Amendment!

    So what if 54% of the people want less government? Let’s pin down what little is left of Federalism and stick a knife in its already-sputtering heart by nationalizing that most traditionally-left-to-the-States job of defining and regulating the institution of civil marriage! THAT should be the GOP’s lasting legacy!

    This “Reaganite” crap is just more leftist, populist, power-to-the-people nonsense. The GOP knows that real conservatives want the institutions of government they control to use the power of the State to protect and preserve our culture and our values from all competitors. We want everyone speaking English, we want everyone reading our version of the Ten Commandments, we want everyone praying to our God at every football game (or, since we are not unreasonable people, standing silently for a couple of minutes while WE use the poudspeaker to pray), and we want the gays back in the closet (or, better yet, in Europe or Canada). And the GOP is delivering on most of that. So quit complaining!

    Comment by Ann C — November 14, 2006 @ 5:14 pm - November 14, 2006

  3. Let’s pin down what little is left of Federalism and stick a knife in its already-sputtering heart by nationalizing that most traditionally-left-to-the-States job of defining and regulating the institution of civil marriage!

    That would be fine, if gay leftists would agree to quit trying to have those state bans overturned by appealing to higher, including Federal, courts.

    But, since they refuse and continue to file frivolous lawsuit after frivolous lawsuit, hoping to find a judge somewhere who will overstep their bounds and overturn the will of the electorate, a Federal amendment is the only obvious solution.

    Personally, I wonder if that large of a bitch-slap is the only thing that will finally purge the hatemongering and voter-fearing gay left — and allow us to actually start working where we should have in the first place, on the electorate.

    And as for your last statement, Ann, fearmongering doesn’t work here, especially when your precious Democrats are supporting state and Federal bans on gay marriage and pandering on The 700 Club. We know very well it’s nothing but irrational rationalization on your part for why you can’t and won’t confront Democratic homophobia.

    Comment by North Dallas Thirty — November 14, 2006 @ 5:28 pm - November 14, 2006

  4. I agree on term limits, but I would add one more caveat, based on my experience in California; when you are termed out, you are no longer eligible for elective office at the same level. For instance, if you were termed out of a state government position, i.e. Assembly, you could run for mayor of a city or a Federal position, but you would not be eligible to run for governor or other elective official roles in the state.

    That would produce the damndest elections we’ve ever seen — and it would do a fine job of purging the merry-go-round of officeholders we have in CA (“Done with Assembly? Run for Treasurer! Done with Treasurer? Run for Insurance Commissioner!”

    Comment by North Dallas Thirty — November 14, 2006 @ 5:32 pm - November 14, 2006

  5. But the Federal Marriage Amendment does not merely prevent “activist judges” from redefining marriage in their State… it also would prevent the State’s duly-elected legislature from deciding what marriage is and should be within that State. So this clap-trap about judges is really just a red herring. The poster who brings it up is being disingenuous (actually, he’s lying through his teeth, but “disingenuous” just sounds so much more genteel!).

    If activist judges was the problem, then why hamstring the voters or the legislatures? A State legislature could pass a law specifically redefining marriage to include gay couples, but the FMA would specifically bar anyone from “construing” that law as doing what it actually does. A State’s voters could enact gay marriage by amendment their State constitution, but that amendment would be illegal because the Federal Constitution declares that marriage can only be one man and one woman. In fact, the FMA doesn’t even MENTION judges or courts. Not once.

    The FMA, like No Child Left Behind, is a nail in the coffin of Federalism. The enduring legacy of the GOP’s 12-year run is going to be their Final Solution to the Federalism Problem.

    Comment by Ann C — November 14, 2006 @ 8:36 pm - November 14, 2006

  6. Ann, you completely ignore or are unaware of the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the Constitution. Which makes you disingenuous or quite simple in your understanding of the entire issue – not to mention arrogant in claiming to know that North Dallas is lying.

    Comment by LifeTrek — November 14, 2006 @ 9:01 pm - November 14, 2006

  7. I must weigh in on this issue. I was privileged to work for former Congressman Robert S. Walker for for 14 years. He was a man of such integrity -= I thought all Congressmen were just like my boss.
    I completely agree with Dan that the beginning of the end was the election of DeLay to that position.
    Things would certainly have been very different if Cong. Walker had been elected to that post. Now we have to hope that there are some people waiting in the wings with integrity.

    Comment by PatriotMom — November 14, 2006 @ 9:13 pm - November 14, 2006

  8. Regarding earmarks,the political process and my hope for some reform I have to say that Nancy makes me nervous.

    During the last congressional session, her district received far more earmarks than a typical district, according to Taxpayers for Common Sense, a nonpartisan watchdog that tracks congressional spending….

    Citizens Against Government Waste, a critic of such “pork-barrel” spending, has calculated that Pelosi’s district received nearly $31.3 million through earmarks in the last two fiscal years.

    Comment by John in IL — November 14, 2006 @ 9:35 pm - November 14, 2006

  9. Lifetrek,

    You seem to be completely ignorant of… well, you seem to be completely ignorant, period.

    The Full Faith & Credit Clause of the Federal Constitution does not require (and never has required) one State to recognize or give effect to a marriage entered into in another State that would be illegal in that State. The courts in this country have said so over and over again.

    See, for example:

    Pacific Employers Insurance Co. v. Industrial Accident Commission, 306 U.S. 493, 502 (1939).
    Alaska Packers Ass’n v. Industrial Accident Comm’n, 294 U.S. 532 (1935).
    Williams v. North Carolina II, 325 U.S. 226 (1945).
    Osoinach v. Watkins, 180 So. 577 (Ala. 1938) (marriage between nephew and widow of uncle in Georgia not recognized in Alabama).
    Catalano v. Catalano, 170 A.2d 726 (Conn. 1961) (marriage between uncle and niece elsewhere questioned in Connecticut, where such marriages were prohibited; marriage considered invalid).
    Toler v. Oakwood Smokeless Coal Corp., 4 S.E.2d 364 (Va. 1939) (marriage performed and valid in West Virginia questioned in Virginia, where the marriage was prohibited; marriage declared void).

    You should read Lanham v. Lanham, 117 N.W. 787 (Wisc. 1908), where a heterosexual couple, who were prohibited from getting married in Wisconsin because law prohibited marriage within one year of divorce, got married in Michigan and returned to Wisconsin… but the courts ruled that their marriage was not valid, since it violated Wisconsin’s public policy.

    The courts in these cases specifically said that the FF&C clause did NOT require one State to recognize marriages from another State. Nice try, though. Let’s see… I seem to have several cases that back up MY position. Do you have one that says that the FF&C clause requires a State to recognize a marriage performed elsewhere? Just one? Any proof at all?

    You know, there is a reason why Constitutional jurisprudence isn’t an amateur sport, Lifetrek. Why don’t you just not try your hand at it until you are qualified, hmm?

    As I said before… all this nonsense about activist judges (and the FF&C clause) is just a fake, invented crisis to justify the end of Federalism. The two posters here who bring this stuff up are being dishonest.

    Comment by Ann C — November 14, 2006 @ 9:41 pm - November 14, 2006

  10. Dan, GPW, you are 100 percent correct about Delay. He was interested only in raw political power, not ideas. And I believe he greased the downhill slide of the GOP majority by forcing the House to try to intervene in the Teri Schiavo tragedy.

    Comment by Ashley Hunter — November 14, 2006 @ 11:01 pm - November 14, 2006

  11. But the Federal Marriage Amendment does not merely prevent “activist judges” from redefining marriage in their State… it also would prevent the State’s duly-elected legislature from deciding what marriage is and should be within that State.

    And, in the overwhelming majority of cases, the duly-elected legislature has said, “Hell no”.

    It amuses me how gay leftists like Ann C will try to argue against the FMA on the grounds that it disenfranchises the legislatures….while they’re filing lawsuit after lawsuit after lawsuit trying to use the judiciary to overturn these laws.

    As for your case law, Ann C, there is one case that says the Federal government can force states to recognize marriages that are against their laws; Loving v. Virginia, which is, not surprisingly, the one that duplicitous leftists like you try to use to argue that gay marriage is somehow covered under “equal protection”. Furthermore, since it follows all of the cases you cited, it is considered current precedent; most of yours have been relegated to the ash heap, linked as they were towards segregationist laws.

    If you respect the will of the legislatures, Ann C, come out and say that gay leftists like yourself who file lawsuits to overturn the will of the legislature are wrong. It’s the lies of the leftists like yourself who make the FMA necessary, especially as voters discover your complete duplicity and your demands that judges overrule their clearly-expressed wishes.

    Comment by North Dallas Thirty — November 14, 2006 @ 11:58 pm - November 14, 2006

  12. -And, in the overwhelming majority of cases, the duly-elected legislature has said, “Hell no”.-

    Not to all benefits for gay couples. Civil unions, domestic partnerships, have been passed by a number of state legislatures. The federal marriage amendment will bar any of that from being passed by legislatures. Any benefits for gays.

    As for DeLay, his power grab ended up causing big pitfalls to the state’s Congressional delegation. Not a surprise I guess.

    Comment by Carl — November 15, 2006 @ 12:06 am - November 15, 2006

  13. NDT, state legislatures have passed domestic partnership and civil union laws. The FMA would ban them from even having this option.

    Article about DeLay and his power grab causing a negative end result for the TX Congressional delegation:

    Comment by Carl — November 15, 2006 @ 12:08 am - November 15, 2006

  14. Well, PatriotMom, since Bob Walker has retired, we can only hope that there’s a new crop of Republicans eager to emulate him. Mike Pence and John Shadegg do seem to have some of his stuff.

    Comment by GayPatriotWest — November 15, 2006 @ 1:45 am - November 15, 2006

  15. The federal marriage amendment will bar any of that from being passed by legislatures. Any benefits for gays.

    No, it doesn’t.

    The FMA’s wording is as follows (emphasis mine):

    Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this Constitution, nor the constitution of any State, shall be construed to require that marriage or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon any union other than the union of a man and a woman.

    In short, what this does is clarify that no Constitution in the United States requires that gays be granted marriage rights; furthermore, it makes it clear that marriage should be only between a man and a woman.

    The leftist organizations have tried to spin this as banning civil unions; however, that interpretation is not supported by most legal scholars.

    What you’re engaging in, Carl, is the typical leftist scaremongering and spinning. Why can’t you tell the truth and let people know that, according to most legal scholars, the FMA would NOT ban the extension of civil unions and benefits to gay couples?

    Comment by North Dallas Thirty — November 15, 2006 @ 2:16 am - November 15, 2006

  16. Is this thing on? I have tried to post and it isn’t showing?

    Comment by LifeTrek — November 15, 2006 @ 4:54 am - November 15, 2006

  17. Ashley, you might want to sit down but I agree with your comments at #10. You nailed it.

    I’m not too worried about the House GOP leadership right now… I don’t think the current crop of members have the balls to be different or innovate. I hope it doesn’t happen but I think they’ll act like the Democrats for the last few years: “Just Do No” and nitpick. A much better choice would be a dark horse like Mike Rogers of Michigan for GOP leader –he was all over the place during coverage of the 2004 GOP convention and election.

    For me, the telling action for the GOP’s future is in the Senate.

    I’m more interested in seeing Lott fail in his bid in the Senate and Lamar Alexander succeed… but then, I have a soft spot for competent, honest, direct political types and Lott is anything but. Lott is Mr Capitol Hill out of the old Bob Dole mode.

    Comment by Michigan-Matt — November 15, 2006 @ 7:13 am - November 15, 2006

  18. Well Ann C, clearly you are a brilliant constitutional scholar. After all you have made it clear yourself so it must be so!

    Of course if you are as good at constitutional law as you are a judge of character (or would the term pre-judge be more appropriate) you could be in trouble as nothing I have said here is dishonest.

    But you choose to jump to that conclusion and attack me and Dallas…..strange trait for someone so high minded.

    As someone who seems, “completely ignorant, period” to you (which if you had completed your initial though could have been interpreted to mean uninformed or unaware, but by your having amended that thought it can only really mean, “resulting from or showing lack of knowledge or intelligence” as a general condition) perhaps it wasn’t clear that by my noting your failure to address the Full Faith and Credit as well as possible challenges to DOMA it was you were being disingenuous.


    Comment by LifeTrek — November 15, 2006 @ 4:07 pm - November 15, 2006

  19. #15 North Dallas Thirty: Here’s the one thing I can’t figure out. If legislators are concerned, in their words, that activists judges will impose gay marriage, why not just propose a Constitutional amendment forbidding the courts from doing so? Surely that would be easier to pass.

    Comment by kdogg36 — November 15, 2006 @ 4:08 pm - November 15, 2006

  20. (continued from above)

    By the way, you can find the Judiciary Committee testimony of Professor Lea Brilmayer which included the cases you cite, FYI in which he states:

    (T)he Full Faith and Credit Clause has never been understood to require recognition of marriages entered into in other states that are contrary to local “public policy.” The “public policy” doctrine, which is well recognized in conflict of laws, frees a state from having to recognize decisions by other states that offend deeply held local values.4 One of the contexts in which it has proven particularly important is family law.

    However, let me have such other more qualified Constitutional scholars clarify my concerns regarding the legal issues:

    From Judiciary Committee testimony of Mr. Michael Farris, President, Patrick Henry College :

    There is a recognized branch of Full Faith and Credit law that has been directly and seriously undermined as a result of the decision in Lawrence. States have not been required to recognize decisions or decrees of other states if a strong state public policy interest prohibited such recognition. According to the Restatement (Second) of Conflict of Laws Sec. 283 (1971), a state that had a “significant relationship to the spouses and the marriage at the time of the marriage” need not recognize a marriage if the marriage contravenes “the strong public policy” of that state. In Lawrence, the Supreme Court adopted the utterly unprecedented notion that a law cannot be held to be constitutional in the face of a substantive due process challenge if the state’s interest in enacting the law was nothing more than traditional morality. While lawyers can make arguments about anything and find state interests that never entered the minds of the legislators who made the law, any honest person would say that laws prohibiting same-sex marriage, just as laws prohibiting bigamy, were based on traditional majority views of morality.
    Accordingly, it will be difficult for a court to accept an argument asking for a public policy exception to the Full Faith and Credit Clause when that public policy is based on a motivation that has been labeled by the Supreme Court as violating the Equal Protection Clause.(emphasis added)

    As Justice Scalia pointed out in his dissent on Lawrence:

    Today’s opinion dismantles the structure of constitutional law that has permitted a distinction to be made between heterosexual and homosexual unions, insofar as formal recognition in marriage is concerned. If moral disapprobation of homosexual conduct is “no legitimate state interest” for purposes of proscribing that conduct, ante, at 18; and if, as the Court coos (casting aside all pretense of neutrality), “[w]hen sexuality finds overt expression in intimate conduct with another person, the conduct can be but one element in a personal bond that is more enduring,” ante, at 6; what justification could there possibly be for denying the benefits of marriage to homosexual couples exercising “[t]he liberty protected by the Constitution,”

    But then again you have case law on your side, right? But didn’t Texas have case law on their side before the Lawrence decision, including the Supremes in Bowers v. Hardwick?

    This is far to complex an issue to be debated in the comments on this totally unrelated thread, but perhaps you could try turning down the big A a bit as it makes you seem like a big B?

    Comment by LT — November 15, 2006 @ 4:38 pm - November 15, 2006

  21. I’m sorry, Lifetrek, but somehow the website removed from your post all the legal proof you have to show that the FF&C clause will force Alabama to recognize and give effect to gay marriages from Massachusetts. And also all the cases that overturn the cases I cited which say that States are not obligated to recognize marriages from other States. How did that happen?

    But I want to make sure you get a full chance to respond, so please do repost your evidence. You do have evidence, don’t you? Everyone has an opinion, but it is the INFORMED opinions that really matter. So upon what is your opinion based? Surely there are some facts somewhere that back you up? You know, something other than what you heard on talk-radio…

    Really. Where are the court cases that say that the FF&C clause does what you say it does. Because I posted a whole BUNCH of them that say it doesn’t. Almost a full century of Constitutional jurisprudence is against you on this one.

    Let’s see the proof of what you say. You seem to have lots of conclusions, but very little evidence to show how you got to them. Let me amend that for the sake of complete accuracy: you in fact have NO evidence. None. Zero. Nada. A personal check for bupkus drawn on the First National Bank of Squadoo. And an opinion devoid of facts to back it up is just worthless.

    Comment by Ann C — November 15, 2006 @ 4:53 pm - November 15, 2006

  22. Really. Where are the court cases that say that the FF&C clause does what you say it does. Because I posted a whole BUNCH of them that say it doesn’t. Almost a full century of Constitutional jurisprudence is against you on this one.

    Not sure why I’m even going to bother, but what the heck…

    1. See reference to Loving in comment 11. He posted the one monstrously significant case which EXPLICITLY overruled EVERY SINGLE ONE of the cases you cited in your litany of segregationist-based and now overturned litany of crap. Since you are obviously cribbing off some lefty legal cheat sheet, and have no idea of what legal precedent means nor any clue what the law or case history is of the subject, I suggest you go to Wikipedia and read the lay person’s version of what the case is about.

    Seriously, are you at all embarrassed to be spouting legal citations which you clearly do not understand the relevance of or which you do know but are delib. lying about? (I doubt it’s the latter – even a full of it lefty nut like yourself would be embarrassed to post such completely erroneoius clap trap if you had any idea how transparently full of sh*t you sound to any one with a first semester – no first WEEK – law school education.)

    2. See reference to Lawrence in comment 20. Don’t even need a violation of Loving’s fundamental right which comes under SS (that would be strict scrutiny, my dear Ann, for the standard by which race based distinctions must pass…again see Wikipedia), now, even the supposed “legitimate basis” (again, Ann, this is a legal term of art…see Wiki) of morality based laws, not race based, can be overturned by activist courts.

    You frickin lefties are so full of it. Can’t you just argue and convince based on the strength of your ideas, instaed of out and out lying? Convince people and you could get what you want. We’re not anti-gay, but if you’re gonna patronize me and shove bs down my throat, it makes me distrust everything you say and your motives, and actually does make me want to vote for the FMA, something I really am uncomfortable with doing.

    I’m sure this is all lost on you, though. Sigh…

    Comment by MJ — November 16, 2006 @ 10:41 am - November 16, 2006

  23. […] DeLay’s 1994 Election as House GOP Whip: Harbinger of GOP’s 2006 Defeat (November 14, 2006) […]

    Pingback by GayPatriot » Posts* Where We Criticized GOP on Spending in Bush Era — May 7, 2009 @ 4:28 am - May 7, 2009

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