NY Times Editorial Hypocrisy: Tom DeLay vs. Robert Torricelli

A Friday editorial, "Chained to the Ballot," applauds a U.S. District judge for keeping former House majority leader Tom DeLay on the ballot for the upcoming congressional election, calling DeLay’s failed attempt (he will appeal the ruling) a "gambit" and "final power play," as well as "bait-and-switch politicking."

"The former House majority leader Tom DeLay, master practitioner of tooth-and-claw politics, finds himself in a predicament. He’s been cast adrift somewhere between Texas and Virginia after a court struck down his parting Congressional gambit.

"Mr. DeLay, a proud Texan, quit Congress earlier this year, clearly fearing political defeat as he faced trial on charges of campaign money laundering. He could see the Congressional ethics scandal blossom around his old buddy, Jack Abramoff, the now-famously corrupt lobbyist. Before parting, however, the combative Republican could not resist a final power play."


"'There is no evidence that DeLay will still be living in Virginia tomorrow, let alone November 7,' wrote Judge Sparks, a Republican appointee who found no room in the law for bait-and-switch politicking."

The Times concluded:

"It might be a fitting punishment to force him to run for Congress while explaining to his constituents why he tried so hard to abandon them for the green fields of the Washington suburbs."

For comparison’s sake, let’s examine how the Times editorial page treated a similar incident on the other side of the political divide.

Democratic Sen. Robert Torricelli of New Jersey resigned his seat a mere five weeks before the 2002 election because of allegations of corruption. Under New Jersey law, Torricelli’s resignation came too late to put up a substitute candidate -- the electoral ballot could not be changed within 51 days of the election.

In a striking contrast, the Times wanted Torricelli off the ballot quickly, so that the voters could get a "vigorous" campaign and "the choice they deserve." The "choice" to vote for a more viable Democrat than Torricelli, anyway.

The Times editorial from October 3, 2002:

"New Jersey's Supreme Court made the right call yesterday when it ruled that the State Democratic Party could substitute Frank Lautenberg for the discredited Robert Torricelli as its candidate in November's election for the United States Senate. The ruling appears to clear the way for a vigorous if necessarily abbreviated campaign, thus giving New Jersey voters the choice they deserve....in the end it ruled, rightly, that the greater need was to ensure ‘full and fair ballot choice for the voters of New Jersey.’"

From an October 1, 2002 editorial:

"The task now is to find a way to give New Jersey's voters the choice they deserve….The Democrats, led by Gov. James McGreevey, must move quickly to find a credible replacement. The courts must then expeditiously approve the ballot substitution, which in turn will clear the way for an energetic one-month campaign that, with Senator Torricelli out of the picture, can focus tightly on loftier issues than his seamy behavior."

Interesting, that what is now "bait-and-switch politicking" when done by Republican Tom DeLay was absolutely necessary four years ago when done by New Jersey Democrats, in order to give New Jersey voters "the choice they deserve." Apparently the Times is unconcerned about the choices of Texas voters, but simply want DeLay retained on the ballot as a "fitting punishment" -- in other words, for the paper’s own partisan fun.

For more New York Times bias, visit TimesWatch.

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Clay Waters's picture

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