Republicans know how to play by the rules

There's an old joke about how best to come out of the closet to your parents.

There's an old joke about how best to come out of the closet to your parents.

First, tell them you have a brain tumor. That way, when they find out you're just gay, they won't be so mad. No one expects (or wants) Tom Delay (R-TX) to come out of the closet, but he and fellow House Republicans proved conclusively last week that they had mastered the art of lessening the impact of unpopular news. Right after the November election, Delay and his emboldened cohorts announced they would reverse their own ethics rules, thereby allowing Delay to keep his job as House minority leader despite an impending criminal indictment. This stank of corruption and arrogance, and the media covered it as such. Then, upon returning to his job last week, Delay allegedly begged his fellow members in a private meeting not to reverse the rules for him. It was a move that cried selflessness. The press, for a change, hailed Delay as a benevolent public servant. Then the GOP came out of the closet. On Tuesday, the House voted to change a different set of its own rules - much more technical and much less noticed - that would still let Delay keep his job despite whatever may happen to him in court. Now, any complaint deadlocked in the ethics committee - which is permanently split down the middle between Democrats and Republicans - will be dismissed. Same impact, much less obvious. Far be it for us to advance conspiracy theories, but could it be that the GOP never intended to reverse the original rule? Perhaps they were just setting us up so they could pull the ultimate "switcheroo" as we were praising Delay for not doing something he was never going to do? It gives us a headache trying to figure it out as well. But that's just one of many, many reasons we don't control the country.
  • Douglas Quenqua writes PR Play of the Week. He is PRWeek's Washington, DC, bureau chief. Ratings: 1. Clueless 2. Ill-advised 3. On the right track 4. Savvy 5. Ingenious

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