It’s tough being a leader in the House and Senate these days. Not that I have any sympathy for Tom DeLay, but I can’t help but notice a distinct pattern of tragic consequences befalling these folks in recent years.
Go back to Speaker Jim Wright whose tenure was cut short by a scandal that in retrospect seems laughably insignificant today. He was replaced by Tom Foley who then became a target of Republican opposition and ended up losing his House seat in the 1994 mid-term election that brought the Republicans to power in the House.
Next we had Speaker Newt Gingrich whose rapid rise to power eventually flamed out in the midst of a sex scandal that probably would have gone unnoticed if he hadn’t been leading the charge to impeach President Clinton over the Monica Lewinski affair. Gingrich was followed by Robert Livingstone whose career as House Speaker lasted less than a day when it was quickly revealed that he too was cheating on his spouse.
So far, Speaker Dennis Hastert has managed to avoid any serious repercussions, but that is probably because all of the attention has been focused on DeLay as the one wielding the real levers of power.
On the Senate side we had Tom Daschle who would probably still be in the Senate today if he had not taken on the leadership role of the Democratic Party during the last election. Before ascending to the rank of minority leader, Daschle was a relative unknown outside of his own state. But once in the seat of power he became a target of daily abuse from the likes of Rush Limbaugh and the Fox News talking heads and the GOP dumped tons of money into their ultimately successful race to unseat him.
And let’s not forget on the Republican side we had Trent Lott who had to give up the reins of power after making racially insensitive remarks at the late-Strom Thurmond’s 100th Birthday celebration. His replacement, Bill Frist, is now the target of an SEC investigation looking at allegations of insider trading involving his family-owned business and it is probably just a matter of time before he will be out the door along with DeLay and the others.