Innocent until proven guilty. If we truly believe that, then House Republicans have a point: Why punish leaders by making them step aside when they are simply indicted? After all, they haven’t yet been convicted of a crime.
A spokesman for Congressman Henry Bonilla of Texas says the rule change is designed to “prevent political manipulation of the process.”
Republicans charge partisanship by a Texas judge and admit that the change is being made largely in case Tom DeLay is indicted over fundraising there.
The new rule allows Republicans to decide each case concerning an indicted leader on a separate basis. Arbitrarily, in other words. Some leaders might have to step down, some not.
Republicans once used the old rule to show Democrats as corrupt. Now they change the rule when it actually bites them. Democrat House Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland said, “Today, Republicans sold their soul to maintain their grip on power.”
We might ask why it has become so routine for congressmen to be indicted? Partisan judges or not. And the simple fact is that Tom DeLay has also been admonished by the House Ethics committee several times. Since Republicans control the body, they can’t simply blame partisanship.
Congress is becoming a home for arbitrary rules designed to benefit those in power.
What should the rules be? To Republicans and Democrats, there is no one answer. Because it all depends.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.