This rule said that any House Republican leader would have to relinquish their leadership position if they should be indicted for a crime that could bring a prison term of at least two years.
This was a rather foolish rule, as those of you who know anything about the law will realize. An indictment isn't a conviction. Any prosecutor worth his salt could get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich if he tried.
But this was about posturing. It was about making hay from the indictments of some high-ranking Democratic Congressmen.
And, alas, it came to prove that House Republicans, with their rule, were no different than House Democrats without it.
House Majority Leader Tom DeLay is under investigation by a Texas grand jury for campaign finance violations.
Some have said ("some" being DeLay and Texas Republican Representative Henry Bonilla) that this is a partisan attack by a crackpot district attorney. Ever notice that the folks being investigated claim it's a partisan attack and their opponents claim it's a quest for truth and justice?
Who knows if the grand jury is going to indict DeLay anyway? Only the grand jury at this point. The evidence is there, or the evidence isn't.
Still, the House Republican Conference chose, in a closed-door meeting yesterday, to change the rules.
Now a large party committee will review any cases where members of the Republican Leadership are under felony indictment and decide if it's a "frivolous" indictment. Does anybody besides me see a flurry of indictments that are declared "frivolous?"