George Will

The K Street Project? That is, getting interest groups to hire Republican lobbyists, and to make such hirings fruitful by transactions using, among other things, earmarks? The author of this insists: ``I'm very proud of it.'' In 1994, ``we were coming as a Republican majority into a Democratic culture'' in Washington. For 40 years, he says, the media had hired people congenial to sources who controlled Congress. And K Street -- the lobbyists' habitat -- hired Democrats to ensure access to Democrats. K Street Republicans ``never got to see John Dingell or (Dan) Rostenkowski,'' two Democratic chairmen of crucial committees.

So, DeLay asks: In 1995, what do you think Democratic-dominated K Street was interested in? ``Helping us get our work done? Secure our majority?'' Those are rhetorical questions.

DeLay's Democratic opponent this fall will be Nick Lampson, a former congressman who in 2004 lost his seat in another district, partly because of the redistricting DeLay engineered that resulted in five additional Republican seats. DeLay won in 2004 with only 55 percent, partly because he thought that ``to set an example'' he should consent to making his district more Democratic in order to make others less so.

Referring to his trial on campaign finance charges brought by a notoriously political Democratic prosecutor, DeLay says, with a confidence that might be misplaced but clearly is unfeigned, ``I'll be acquitted by the end of April.'' Then he says he will secure a 12th term, winning ``the most expensive congressional race  ever.'' The national Democratic Party and several liberal groups -- already running ads and phone banks -- spend, well, liberally.

Because undecided voters are thin on the ground -- he estimates they are about 13 percent of the district -- this election will be about mobilizing the faithful. So the piling on by his critics -- their wretched excesses in response to what they perceive to be his -- may help him.

Congress under Republican control has increased earmarks 873 percent in a decade and validated the axiom that the more solicitous government becomes, the more servile it seems and the more scorn it receives. Congress has not been so unpopular since 1994, when Democrats lost their 40-year grip on the House. But here on the east bend of the Brazos River, unlike on the Potomac, the fever for reform is not high. To a visiting columnist who waxes censorious about earmarks for highway projects, DeLay responds with a notable lack of repentance: ``You just drove out on one."


George Will

George F. Will is a 1976 Pulitzer Prize winner whose columns are syndicated in more than 400 magazines and newspapers worldwide.
 
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