Saturday, March 26, 2005


DeLay Hits The Hypocrisy Twofer!

We all know how Tom DeLay is such a staunch supporter of "tort reform". And we've all watched as DeLay rammed through a bill designed to appeal to the pro-life crowd (or at least the parents of Terri Schiavo), in the name of preserving life at any cost -- and his buddies in the pro-life community praise him to the skies:

Leaders of social conservatism commend DeLay's determination in pressing the Schiavo legislation and say it reflects a longtime but occasionally unrecognized commitment to issues favoring life. "He doesn't go around crowing about it," said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, who worked with DeLay to produce a bill. "I don't think others have spoken enough about the work that he has done."
So this late-breaking story from the Los Angeles Times is a true hypocrisy twofer for Tom DeLay -- both on the "pro-life" and "tort reform" sides:
CANYON LAKE, Texas — A family tragedy unfolding in a Texas hospital during the fall of 1988 was a private ordeal -- without judges, emergency sessions of Congress or the raging debate outside Terri Schiavo's Florida hospice. The patient then was a 65-year-old drilling contractor, badly injured in a freak accident at his home. Among the family standing vigil at Brooke Army Medical Center was a grieving junior congressman -- U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay, R-Texas. More than 16 years ago, far from the political passions that have defined the Schiavo controversy, the DeLay family endured its own wrenching end-of-life crisis. The man in a coma, kept alive by intravenous lines and a ventilator, was DeLay's father, Charles Ray DeLay. Then, freshly re-elected to a third term in the House, DeLay waited all but helpless for the verdict of doctors. Today, as House Majority Leader, DeLay has teamed with Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., to champion political intervention the Schaivo case. He pushed emergency legislation through congress to shift the legal case from Florida state courts to the federal judiciary. And he is among the strongest advocates of keeping the woman, who doctors say has been in a persistent vegetative state for 15 years, connected to her feeding tube. DeLay has denounced Schiavo's husband, as well as judges, for committing what he calls "an act of barbarism" in removing the tube. In 1988, however, there was no such fiery rhetoric as the congressman quietly joined the sad family consensus to let his father die. "There was no point to even really talking about it," Maxine DeLay, the congressman's 81-year-old mother, recalled in an interview last week. "There was no way he (Charles) wanted to live like that. Tom knew, we all knew, his father wouldn't have wanted to live that way."
DeLay's father had been severely injured in an accident involving a backyard tram that was intended to move people safely up and down the hillside on which his home was built. After his death, the family started suing people over it:
In 1990 the DeLays filed suit against Midcap Bearing Corporation of San Antonio and Lovejoy Inc. of Illinois, the distributor and maker of a coupling that they said failed and caused the tram to hurtle out of control down the steep bank. [...] The DeLay family litigation sought unspecified compensation for, among other things, the dead father's "physical pain and suffering, mental anguish and trauma," and the mother's grief, sorrow and loss of companionship. Their lawsuit also alleged violations of the Texas product liability law. The DeLay case moved slowly through the Texas judicial system, accumulating more than 500 pages of motions, affidavits and disclosures over nearly three years. Among the affidavits was one filed by the congressman, but family members said he had little direct involvement in the lawsuit, leaving that to his attorney brother, Randall. Rep. DeLay, who since has taken a leading role promoting congressional tort reform, wants to rein in trial lawyers to protect American business from what he calls "frivolous, parasitic lawsuits" that raise insurance premiums and "kill jobs." In September, he expressed something less than warm sentiment for attorneys when he took the floor of the House to condemn trial lawyers who, he said, "get fat off the pain (of plaintiffs and off) the hard work (of defendants)."
Oh, and this is what really sends the Hypocrisy Meter into the red:
The case was resolved in 1993 with payment of an undisclosed sum of about $250,000, according to sources familiar with an out of court settlement. DeLay signed over his share of any proceeds to his mother, said DeLay aides. Three years later, DeLay cosponsored a bill specifically designed to override state laws on product liability such as the one cited in his family's lawsuit. The legislation provided sweeping exemptions for sellers of such products. The 1996 bill was rejected by President Clinton. In his veto message the president said he objected to the DeLay-backed measure because it "tilts against American families and would deprive them of the ability to recover fully when they are injured by a defective product."'

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