Dan Baltz spins the Delay indictment as Chicken Little Sky is Falling On Republicans. Could he have written a clunkier phrase……. Bad news often comes in bunches. Note all the references to weather.

Bad news often comes in bunches, but for a Republican Party that not long ago looked ahead to an unfettered period of growth and expansion, yesterday’s indictment of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) represented one of the most significant blows the party has suffered in a year replete with problems.

Since the fall of House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) in 1998, no two Republicans have been more responsible for the GOP’s recent electoral and legislative successes than DeLay and President Bush, a power tandem whose strengths have complemented one another repeatedly. Bush has been the party’s public face, direction-setter and most effective campaigner. But in Washington, DeLay has been an iron force who bent the system to his will and priorities.

Majority Leader Delay Indicted Rep. Tom Delay (R-Tex.), a hard-charging partisan with an intimidating reputation, was charged by a Texas prosecutor in a campaign finance probe.

Over the years, DeLay raised and moved vast sums of money to buttress GOP candidates, kept the party’s often-narrow majority together to move a Bush agenda that drew little Democratic support and changed the terms by which K Street lobbyists did business with Congress.

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With muscle and determination, DeLay ruled the inside game, and his indictment is therefore all the more significant — a powerful symbol that the Democrats will attempt to exploit as an example of the GOP’s abuse of power.

The indictment — which Republicans say is politically motivated — adds to the gathering headwind that now threatens the Republicans as they look toward the 2006 elections.

Whether this becomes the perfect storm that eventually swamps the GOP is far from clear a year out. But Republican strategists were nearly unanimous in their private assessments yesterday that the party must brace for setbacks next year.

On almost every front, Republicans see trouble. Bush is at the low point of his presidency, with Iraq, hurricane relief, rising gasoline prices and another Supreme Court vacancy all problems to be solved. Congressional Republicans have seen their approval ratings slide throughout the spring and summer; a Washington Post-ABC News poll in August found that just 37 percent of Americans approve of the way Congress is doing its job, the lowest rating in eight years.

Read it all. It’s quite amusing and ranges from Tito in Yugoslavia to P.T. Barnum…….