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DeLay's Foreign Meddling

August 01, 2003

Rep. Tom DeLay has been anything but shy about using the considerable power of his office to promote his political friends at home and vanquish his foes. That the House majority leader is now using that platform abroad to peddle his personal apocalyptic view of Middle Eastern politics moves him into a new realm.

DeLay knows only one way to make policy -- by going for the throat. The Texas Republican first won his House seat in 1984 by blasting the environmental regulations that had bedeviled him as a pest control executive. This year, DeLay, a long-time gun enthusiast, predicted that the federal assault weapons ban would expire this year, a prediction he can ensure by not calling for a vote on the ban's reauthorization.

More recently, DeLay tried to orchestrate his home state's Legislature to overturn a court-ordered congressional redistricting plan and substitute one that would assure a GOP majority. Democratic state lawmakers were so incensed at this off-year, Washington-led gambit that they left Texas en masse -- twice -- depriving the Legislature of a quorum.

Still, DeLay's speech to members of Israel's Knesset on Wednesday while touring the Holy Land took his my-way-or-the-highway approach much further. The Bush administration's "road map" to peace rests on cease-fires, a halt to Jewish settlements in Palestinian territories and Palestinian statehood. DeLay's vision for Israel does not. His Christian Zionist religious belief holds that a Jewish Israel is necessary for the second coming of Jesus Christ and the "rapture" that will deliver Christians into heaven. That view abjures negotiation since compromise by Israel would interfere with the fulfillment of the prophecy.

DeLay told the Knesset members that Israel is in a pitched battle pitting good against evil that will "cost money and blood, but we're willing to pay." As for the compromises that President Bush is so ardently seeking, the Texan said, "There is no middle ground, no moderate position worth taking."

The House leader, speaking in his official capacity, did nothing to separate his personal beliefs from this nation's foreign policy, whether or not those beliefs are explicitly religious.

DeLay in fact did the opposite, telling Israeli lawmakers, "We fight humbly and proudly together" and that "the American people stand with you."

U.S. lawmakers are entitled to their personal convictions and are free to vigorously criticize their government. Americans are justly proud of this nation's long history of tolerance. But that tolerance is stretched hard by lawmakers who pass off their personal views as foreign policy, even if more bloodshed could result.

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