Debra J. Saunders

 Ellen Miller, of the left-leaning Campaign for America's Future, predicted on a conference call Wednesday that Rep. Bob Ney, R-Ohio, would be the next GOP shoe to drop. The Washington Post has reported that Ney has hired a criminal lawyer, as his name appear in e-mails being studied by the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, which is looking into Abramoff's dealings with big-casino tribes.

 DeLay also is guilty of playing it too cute. The House ethics committee has chastised him for offering a political favor in exchange for a vote, for asking federal aviation workers to check on a plane during a Lone Star political squabble and for appearing at an energy-company fund-raiser that seemed too cozy. So when it looked as if the ethics folks might fault him for his own personal Travelgate, DeLay, with the help of Speaker Dennis Hastert, ousted Chairman Joel Hefley, R-Colo., and tried to rig House rules.

 Defiant in his own defense, DeLay faulted "the politics of personal destruction" Wednesday. No, like the GOP giant Newt Gingrich before him, DeLay should recognize the politics of self-destruction. It's an old story. A scrappy young man goes to Washington to change the political culture, only to become the very things he once resented -- a defender of bloated government and a party hack who put power before principle. But he doesn't change the system, it changes him.

 Over time, he is surrounded by committee chairmen and other long-timers who think as he does. They're so important, they decide, taxpayers should excuse their indulgences and subsidize their pork -- just to keep them in office.

 Until the day they realize that their fearless leader could cost them re-election. Then, it's man overboard.

Debra J. Saunders

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