Seems like the Wall Street Journal‘s John Fund reads this blog. Seven weeks ago, I noted how Tom DeLay’s 1994 Election at House GOP Whip Set the Stage for the Party’s loss of Congress last fall (made effective today). Preferring DeLay to Pennsylvania’s Bob Walker, House Republicans chose a pragmatic political operative over a principled conservative.
At the time, I wrote, “Perhaps had Walker won that election, he might have helped the GOP stand true to the principles he had long promoted.” In today’s OpinionJournal Political Diary (available by subscription), Fund writes:
It turns out that Mr. DeLay’s election as Majority Whip after the 1994 election — the vote that set him on his path to power — was an extraordinarily fateful one. He defeated Rep. Bob Walker of Pennsylvania, who had the backing of Mr. Gingrich and had advocated keeping a GOP majority in Congress by passing conservative legislation that would produce sound results and earn popular support at the polls. Welfare reform was an early and rare example of that strategy.
In contrast, the DeLay model of governance that increasingly took hold of the GOP caucus was a simple one: Use the power of gerrymandering and pork to cement enough incumbents to ensure that a narrow GOP majority would always be returned. The flip-side of that strategy was a dilution of conservative principles in favor of machine politics. The low point was the 2003 vote on creating the prescription drug entitlement that only passed when House leaders held the floor vote open for an unprecedented three hours while Members were dragooned into line.
Let us hope that now in the minority, House Republicans return to the principles Walker championed — and DeLay abandoned.