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By Paul Hill

HOUSTON - Republican House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R- Sugar Land) has again distinguished himself in his ability to use crass political manipulation in an attempt to distract the public from his compromised reputation. Not content to let this spectacle of hypocrisy come to an end, Mr. DeLay is throwing oil on the fire by arrogantly threatening federal judges! Judges interpreted the law to mean that comatose patient Terry Schivo's parents could not circumvent her husband's decision to let her die. Mr. DeLay menaced: "The time will come for the men responsible for this to answer for their behavior."

Senator Lautenberg responded strongly with a letter pointing out that Mr. DeLay's comments "may violate a Federal criminal statute...That law states: "Whoever threatens to assault...or murder, a United States judge with intent to retaliate against such judge on account of the performance of official duties, shall be punished [by up to six years in prison]" The letter points out that the family of Federal Judge Joan H. Lefkow of Illinois was recently murdered in their home and Judge Rowland W. Barnes and others were gunned down in his courtroom. The letter does not mention the doctors who performed abortions who were murdered by anti-woman fanatics. The letter does point out that threats against specific Federal Judges are "not only a serious crime, but also beneath a Member of Congress...Your attempt to intimidate judges in America not only threatens our courts, but our fundamental democracy as well."

Other reports indicate Delay's cynicism. The L.A. Times says that DeLay faced a tragedy similar to the Schiavo case in the Fall of 1988 when his father was critically injured in an accident at his home. The family made the rational decision to let him die when his kidneys failed, and Rep. DeLay supported the decision.

Recently, DeLay joined with Sen. Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) to spearhead the congressional effort to obstruct Terri Schiavo's husband's decision. He denounced Schiavo's husband and judges for what he calls "an act of barbarism" in removing her feeding tube. A large majority called this effort political grandstanding and disagreed with the congressional action. Afterwards, President Bush's approval rating fell to the lowest level in his Presidency, 45%. Many pundits attributed his fall in approval rating to his having jumped on DeLay's bandwagon.

Legal proceedings in Austin over questionable behaviors in Texas elections hang over DeLay's head, as do his battles over ethics in the House of Representatives.

A Houston Chronicle poll indicates DeLay's approval ratings in his own district have dropped. 69% of his constituents opposed the government action in the Schiavo matter. 49% responded that someone new should be elected in the district. Only 39% said Tom DeLay should be re-elected.

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