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April 27, 2017

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Why is Tom DeLay smiling?

Why is Tom DeLay smiling? He's been indicted. Forced out of his job as House majority leader. Called into court for fingerprinting and a mug shot like a common criminal.

Answer: A photo of DeLay grinning from ear to ear doesn't pack the punch in a Democratic attack ad as one in which he that looks more like the mug shot of, say, scowling, tousle-haired actor Hugh Grant.

Note the House of Representatives security pin on DeLay's lapel.

He looks in the photo like a proud member of Congress who might just have won the lottery, not one indicted on charges of money laundering. The photo looks like it could have been taken anywhere.

That was just the point.

Democrats nationally are already sounding as if they'll make DeLay the poster boy for bad Republican behavior in next year's elections, when all 435 House seats and 33 of the Senate's 100 are open.

DeLay, an 11-term Texas congressman and former pest exterminator famed for enforcing GOP loyalty, faced a tough re-election campaign even before the indictment.

In the 2004 elections, DeLay won 55 percent of the vote, a relatively weak showing for a veteran House leader. His challenger next year is expected to be former Rep. Nick Lampson, who lost his seat in 2004 after he was forced to run in a new district because of a redistricting plan pushed by DeLay.

For his mandatory booking Thursday, which caused him to miss voting on a gun industry bill popular in his home state, DeLay did everything he could to prevent images of the event from being committed to film. Rather, the photograph projects the confidence DeLay exhibits in all his scuffles.

For anyone who didn't get it, DeLay's lawyer, Dick DeGuerin, articulated the message it was intended to send.

"If you saw Congressman DeLay's mug shot, he was smiling," DeGuerin told reporters. "He's eager, and he's ready to go."

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