WaPo ‘Sleuth’ on White House Census Power Grab: A ‘Tom Delay-Style Strategy’; IL Gerrymander Worse that TX's

CensusBureauPic0209.jpgThe Washington Post's Mary Ann Akers, aka "The Sleuth," has (Tom) Delay Derangement Syndrome (DDS), and she's got it bad.

Akers's DDS outbreak occurred as she reported on the plan by the Obama Administration to have the director of the Census Bureau report to the White House instead of the Director of the Commerce Department.

(On Thursday evening, after my original post [at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog], CQpolitics.com separately updated its original coverage by reporting that "the White House but sought to define the relationship as one in which the director would 'work closely with' rather than report to President Obama’s senior staff." Uh huh.)

As if to justify the administration's plan, Akers incoherently compared the Obama White House's attempt to coopt the entire Census Bureau to what Texan Delay and other Republicans did a few years ago to maximize the number of GOP-majority districts in one state.

Here are the opening paragraphs of Akers's Friday evening bellyache (link is in original):

Get Ready For the U.S. Census Fight, Chicago-style

Republicans are fit to be tied over the Obama administration's Tom DeLay-style strategy of removing the U.S. Census Bureau from the jurisdiction of the Commerce Department and transfering it to the White House.

Their biggest fear, of course, is that with the 2010 census looming, Democrats will attempt to redraw congressional districts to their party's ultimate benefit. (Not that Republicans have ever used politics as their guiding tool in carving out congressional districts to their liking, right Mr. Delay?)

"With all of its political implications, hijacking the Census from the Commerce Dept. and letting it be run out of Rahm's office is like putting PETA in charge of issuing hunting permits," a Senior Republican Senate Aide fumed to the Sleuth. (The aide said he needed to remain anonymous for fear of "being redistricted -- Chicago style.")

So is the White House trying to pull a Tom DeLay?

"All DeLay did was rearrange the deck chairs," said the irate GOP aide, adding, "this would allow Rahm to redesign the whole ship affecting everything from congressional districts to who and where eligible S-CHIP children, adults and 'poor' rich people live."

But the June 28, 2006 New York Times article Akers flagged as alleged support for her criticism shows that Mr. Delay mostly won when the matter was taken to the Supreme Court. Geez Mary, the headline even says so:

Justices Back Most G.O.P. Changes to Texas Districts

The Supreme Court today upheld the basic outlines of a Republican Congressional redistricting plan in Texas, refusing to toss out a sharply contested political map engineered by the former House majority leader, Tom DeLay.

The court handed a smaller victory to the Democratic plaintiffs in the case, ruling that one Congressional district in southwestern Texas had been drawn in a way that violated the rights of Hispanic voters there.

But the court rejected the larger premise — that Texas Republicans had unconstitutionally reorganized the political map to solidify their majority in Congress. The decision means that Texas will be required to adjust some boundaries.

The court upheld the state's ability to break with the tradition of redrawing Congressional districts only right after the official federal census every 10 years, potentially opening the door for legislatures in other states to rewrite their own Congressional maps at will throughout the decade, or when a new party takes over a state capital.

The outcome was something of a vindication for Mr. DeLay .....

"We reject the statewide challenge to Texas redistricting as an unconstitutional political gerrymander," Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion.

You can be assured that when the Times has to admit that "The outcome was something of a vindication for Delay," it really means that he essentially wiped the floor with his opponents' arguments.

There will be a major constitutional element to the White House census takeover if it attempts to dictate the use of statistical sampling to estimate national, state, and area populations instead of using "enumeration" (i.e., counting and only counting), which the Constitution requires. In 2000, the Supreme Court ruled that stat sampling could not be used for "apportionment," but left open the possibility that it might be acceptable for use in "redistricting."

Another obvious problem with the reporting by Akers, whose blog description promises to give readers "better than a front-row seat to the show," is that she didn't show us how the results of Delay's handiwork compare to those achieved by the Chicago-dominated Democrats in Illinois.

If you do that, you'll see that the Lone Star State GOP was indeed pretty "creative." But it's obvious that the real gerrymandering "experts" are in the Land of Lincoln (Links: Texas congressional district map; Illinois; enlarged metro Chicago):

IllinoisCongDistrictMap0209 ChicagoDists2002

For emphasis: If you think you're suffering from double vision because you see the number "4" twice in the Chicagoland map, you're not. You're just looking at what is probably the most distorted, democracy-discouraging congressional district in the country -- the Illinois Fourth:


Another person in the White House should be familiar with the incumbent-protecting powers of gerrymandered Congressional Districts. He tried to win this Congressional seat, the Illinois 1st, which is also doubly identified in the Chicagoland map above, less than a decade ago:


That White House person would be its occupant, President Barack Obama, who lost badly in 2000 (61% - 30%) when he tried to unseat incumbent Bobby Rush.

Mary Ann Akers should realize that we will be lucky if the Obama Adminstration is only "trying to pull a Tom Delay." Sadly, it is much more likely that it is trying to pull a Chicago.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

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