It looks -- and sounds -- like Tom DeLay is done with politics, at least the electoral kind.
And not just because of his slightly better-than-expected performance on the season debut of "Dancing With The Stars."
And not just because of his ongoing legal issues.
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The former House republican leader and majority whip knows a thing or two about counting votes. And he doesn't like the look of the landscape for Republicans right now.
He told Politico this week that the party has a major flaw:
"Republicans are leaderless,'' he went on, "so we're just fighting each other instead of Obama's radical policies. There's no political leader of the party taking control. So, Republicans are just attacking each other for being too far right or too far left. Even Rush and Hannity are doing it."
So who does DeLay see as the GOP's up-and-comers? "No one," he replied in exasperation. "It's all the same old guys who were in leadership with me, and those old guys aren't the leaders the party needs."
Dancing and politics have a few things in common: They both depend on rhythm, good moves and an ideal chemistry between complementary partners. The GOP put all those elements together back in 1994. The combination of an energized rising Republican base, the Contract With America and smart, savvy GOP congressional leaders (Newt Gingrich, Dick Armey and DeLay, among others) produced great music and enabled the party to waltz into majority status.
There are several young Republicans in Congress that have the look of comers -- Eric Cantor, Paul Ryan and Mike Pence, to name three, but they're not Gingrich, Armey and Delay.
The other problem the GOP faces is, well, its, face.
Fairly or not, one major reason why Democratic and media mutterings about the opposition to Obama being "racist" has some power is the demographic racial reality that the GOP can't easily overcome. With the notable exception of RNC Chairman Michael Steele, nearly all GOP leaders and spokesman are white. That doesn't mean the message that they express is racist, but when opposing not just a black president, but a racially, ethnically majority party, the GOP is easily caricatured as representative of only one segment of the society and nation it hopes to lead.
Tom DeLay is right -- the party needs new leaders. But it also needs to attract a few new partners.