Straining credulity: Yesterday, former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay appeared on “Fox News Sunday” and declared that his indictment last week “is politics at its sleaziest, and people will recognize that and see it for what it is.” But a Newsweek poll released Saturday indicates that a significant portion of the public does not share his opinion.
A 39-percent plurality said the Texas Republican likely “engaged in serious wrongdoing,” while 28 percent said the indictment on charges of conspiracy to violate state election law probably stemmed from political rivals out to “embarrass” him. Less than a quarter weren’t sure, and 10 percent weren’t aware of the charges. Predictably, 60 percent of Democrats doubted DeLay’s innocence, as compared to 21 percent of Republicans.
Nearly two-thirds of respondents said DeLay should return to his leadership post if found not guilty, while 22 percent said he should step down permanently.
Overall, respondents seemed disillusioned with both parties. More than half — 56 percent — said the current Congress will be as equally subject to corruption as previous Democratic-controlled bodies. In addition, 44 percent said the number of ethical lapses in the Bush administration would be the same as previous administrations, while 28 percent said it would be more corrupt and 25 percent said less corrupt.
Respondents gave Bush a 40 percent job approval rating, with 53 percent disapproving. Congress’ numbers were worse, with just 32 percent approving and 56 percent frowning on their work.
Newsweek pollsters also asked the public about the government’s failings following Hurricane Katrina. Twenty-nine percent said the biggest reason for the botched response was “bad management,” while 28 percent blamed the selection of unqualified “political cronies” for leadership posts. Fewer than two in 10 put the onus on government cutbacks during Bush’s tenure.