The Hammer's party may take a pounding

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To no one's surprise, Tom DeLay left Washington with a roar of defiance and confrontation. He has always been a politician who sticks his chin out and dares any foe, or even friend, to hit it.

This may be the time. DeLay may have left a legacy those cheering Republicans on June 8 could regret as early as the November elections.

DeLay told his former colleagues he served "honorably and honestly" and had no doubts about his actions as a majority leader who maneuvered the House with brute strength and campaign cash.

Some Democrats say they admire DeLay's political skills but have no use for him as a person. Count this reporter as one who doesn't admire his political skills either.

To do so would be to ignore his indictment for money laundering in Texas and the ongoing investigation of staffers who are tangled in the Jack Abramoff scandal. Abramoff would have been unable to operate on his scale without DeLay's tacit approval of connivance with the system.

DeLay was also the architect of a redistricting scheme in Texas that would make even ardent gerrymandering politicians blush. He couldn't wait for the 2010 census to eliminate some Texas Democrats. The Supreme Court is looking at the case, although it is too late to bring any of those members back for a fair fight.

DeLay's penchant for money raising was rewarding his GOP colleagues in the House but still smacks of currying favor with lobbyists for insider influence in Congress.

Of course, DeLay is not going home to his pest-exterminating business in the Houston suburbs. He's staying in Virginia to pull some strings with his pals and huddle with his lawyers.

To be sure, Democrats had some of this coming. When they were in control of the House for 40 years, some partisan leaders of committees could treat the GOP minority with neglect. DeLay capitalized on that building anger.

When DeLay was elected to a House seat, he was eager to lead a payback surge and to ensure a GOP majority for years to come.

That goal is in some doubt now with the scramble in November for a few dozen seats that will decide whether DeLay's party remains in control.

DeLay loved being called the Hammer. It would be ironic if his party got hammered in November and he would have to shoulder some of the blame.