Molly Ivins on Tom DeLay -- 09 Apr 2006

Molly Ivins on Tom DeLay -- 09 Apr 2006

The Northern Marianas Islands are a U.S. protectorate (so it can label goods "Made in the USA") in the Pacific being used as a sort of labor gulag, with workers imported from China and elsewhere and paid pitiful wages. Jack Abramoff had a contract with the government of the Marianas to lobby against stopping the flow of immigrant labor to the islands and to prevent a minimum-wage bill from getting to the floor of the House.

The islands are home to classic sweatshops. In 1996 and 1997, Abramoff billed the Marianas for 187 contacts with DeLay's office, including 16 meetings with DeLay. In December 1997, DeLay, his wife and their daughter went on an Abramoff-arranged jaunt to the Marianas. DeLay brunched with the Marianas' largest private employer, textile magnate Willie Tan.

Tan had to settle a U.S. Labor Department lawsuit alleging workplace violations. According to the book "The Hammer" by Lou Dubose and Jan Reid, among the violations common on the islands is forbidding women to work when they are pregnant, thus leading to a high abortion rate.

Evidently, DeLay didn't have time to look into such allegations, since he was busy playing golf and attending a dinner in his honor, sponsored by Tan's holding company. According to The Washington Post, it was at this dinner that DeLay called Abramoff "one of my closest and dearest friends." He also reminded those present of his promise that no minimum wage or immigration legislation affecting the Marianas would be passed.

"Stand firm," he added. "Resist evil. Remember that all truth and blessings emanate from our Creator." He then went with Tan to see a cockfight.

This is why DeLay's professions of Christianity make me sick. He was there. He could have talked to the workers. Instead, he chose to walk with the powerful and do real harm to the very people Jesus mandated we especially care for.

(You'd think a Christian wouldn't be able to misinterpret "Thou Shalt Not Steal" in the first place, wouldn't you?)


The culture of corruption that characterizes DeLay and Randy Cunningham has been shielded by their show of Christian values. Human Events, the conservative weekly, notes:
"What is most troubling to us, at the Center for a Just Society, has been the willingness of far too many Christian conservatives to cast a deaf ear and a blind eye toward DeLay's misdeeds. In the midst of ethical scandals swirling around DeLay, Christian conservatives closed ranks and rallied around him. (World Magazine and Baptist Press have been notable exceptions). DeLay was featured prominently with religious conservatives on "Justice Sunday" as a champion of Christian conservative causes. He was cast as a victim of religious profiling at a recent conference dealing with the "War on Christians." And one religious conservative declared, "If they pick a fight with Tom DeLay, they pick a fight with all of us."

DeLay is, of course, entitled to the presumption of innocence on the criminal charges he faces. But there can be no doubt that he has misused his public position for personal gain. Exotic golf outings, luxurious accommodations, extravagant meals -- all were procured because of his position of power. Christian conservatives have largely remained mute in the face of these facts, yet Christians in politics are often at the foreground of calling on public officials to act with integrity and fidelity."