Republican principles

Tucked away somewhere in the nether reaches of my brain are vague memories of the Republican party as a defender of “fiscal responsibility” and “law and order.”

But I wonder if my mind is playing tricks on me.

First comes the news the the GOP is seeking to raise the federal debt ceiling so the Bush administration can borrow more money without having to raise taxes. The amounts involved are beyond my poor powers of comprehension; they want to lift the current debt ceiling– now $7.384 trillion— by another $800 billion.

Have we reached the point where these amounts have become so unimaginably huge as to lose all meaning?

I hate to sound like a cranky old fiscal conservative, but somebody has to do it, and these days it sure isn’t the conservatives.

That’s not all. The Republicans in the House of Representatives voted Wednesday to change a rule requiring party leaders to step down if indicted for serious crimes. The rule change was designed to protect powerful House GOP leader Tom DeLay, who faces the possibility of indictment in Texas on charges related to fund-raising for state political campaigns.

The Republicans adopted the now-obsolete rule in 1993 as part of a campaign to portray themselves as ethically above suspicion. And in the 1994 elections they went on to win a House majority. Of course who could have imagined that some day they might have to enforce the darn thing?

I mean, principles are all well and good, but let’s not let them get in the way of more important things– like winning and holding on to power.

Update: Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo has sunk his teeth into the DeLay rule change (start here and scroll up). He is encouraging his readers in Republican districts to contact their representatives, find out how they voted on the matter, and report back to him. Unsurprisingly a lot of the members are reluctant to say.

Congratulations to Josh for an imaginative use of blogging power.