John Dickerson at Slate:
The two-cheers-for-Tom parade was so well orchestrated it appeared precooked, which it was. With advance word of the indictment, Republican leaders met last night to arrange plans for a “Continuity of Operations” plan, or COOP, as they call it in the military. DeLay would step down and into his place would effortlessly slide David Dreier, the silky-smooth California congressman who now chairs the House Rules committee. “It’s an inspired pick,” said GOP pollster David Winston earlier in the day, before the plan fell apart. Though Dreier was not in the direct line of succession, he was perfect for Hastert’s purposes. He wasn’t aggressively angling for the top job, like No. 3 Roy Blunt, Mo., the House whip. And Dreier has far better TV skills than anyone in the Republican caucus, something that would be necessary to warm up the party’s image outside of its base.
But the best-laid plans fell clattering apart. Though Dreier’s pick had been wired last night by House leadership, and was agreed to by members this morning, by the end of the day he was out, replaced by Blunt. It was a quick and bloody business.
Social conservatives who dislike Dreier’s position in favor of stem-cell research started calling House leaders and members to lobby against him. “We do not find David Dreier representative of the values of conservatives,” said Jessica Echard, executive director of the pro-family group the Eagle Forum, which contacted members of the Republican caucus. The House “Values Action Team,” a group of GOP members tasked with pushing pro-life/pro-family issues within the caucus, blasted an e-mail to their colleagues alerting them that Dreier was to be tapped as a replacement and underlining his voting record supporting stem-cell research and against the marriage protection amendment.
Several Republican sources speculate that the ambitious Blunt put his allies in the socially conservative groups on the phone-calling campaign, and now that he has the job, won’t want to give it back if DeLay is cleared. Now, those are tactics Tom DeLay would approve of.
Then there are all those rumors that Dreier is gay.
Where’s Shakespeare when you need him?