Commentary: Delph shouldn’t make a solo trip to the woodshed


By John Krull 

INDIANAPOLIS – So, Indiana Sen. Mike Delph, R-Carmel, took a trip to the woodshed.

John Krull, publisher,

John Krull, publisher,

Commentary button in JPG - no shadowThe Indianapolis NBC affiliate WTHR reported that Delph met with Senate leaders a few days after his epic Twitter-fueled self-immolation. During a three-day rant on social media that concluded with an emotion-heavy but substance-free press conference, Delph lashed out at timid evangelical church leaders, liberals, the media and just about everyone else who didn’t agree completely with him that Indiana’s constitution should ban gay Hoosiers from marrying or entering into civil unions.

More important, he railed about legislative leaders he thought weren’t truly conservative or lacked the courage of their convictions – which most observers read as shots at the Senate leadership in general and Senate President Pro Tempore David Long, R-Fort Wayne, in particular.

Long and the leadership apparently didn’t like being the objects of Delph’s ire.

Following Delph’s rant, Long and the leaders decided to punish Delph in various ways.

Two of the punishments are straightforward.

Delph’s seat on the Senate floor will be moved away from the Republican leadership and put next to Democrats. (Perhaps moving Delph’s desk and chair to Mars was discarded as too expensive an option.)

And Delph also will lose his position as ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The other two raps on the wrist carry with them some delicious irony.

Delph will lose his press secretary. (That’s not much of a punishment. There isn’t much evidence that he was listening to the one he had, anyway.)

And he’ll be stripped of his position as Senate Assistant Majority Floor Leader of Communications. (I’ve asked this before but I’ll ask it again here: When real life is this strange, why do people bother writing fiction?)

Delph reportedly accepted the punishment but has promised another statement next week.

Oh, joy.

As political punishments go, this one is pretty severe. Delph’s Senate Republican colleagues are saying to him:

We don’t want you to hang around us, we don’t want people to think you’re one of us and, most important, we don’t want you to talk.

Good luck with that last one.

The GOP leaders opted to make Delph go sit in the corner primarily because he broke the Mafia-like seal of secrecy by which most political caucuses, Republican or Democratic, operate. What gets said in the caucus meeting stays in the caucus meeting. No one speaks outside the family – er, caucus.

And that’s part of the problem.

Because so much of Delph’s Twitter outburst and press conference veered from idiosyncrasy to self-aggrandizement, the fact that he may have had at least one valid point got lost in the mix.

Reasonable people can disagree about whether House Joint Resolution 3 even should have been part of the legislative process this year. Given that such measures face constitutional challenges almost everywhere and the outcome is in doubt, the prudent thing from the start probably would have been to wait to see what the outcome of the litigation would be before engaging again on the issue.

But the fact is that the state’s leaders didn’t choose to wait. They made HJR 3 a top priority – shifting it from one House committee to another to make sure that it made to the floor and taking other extraordinary measures to force the state’s citizens to confront the issue.

Then, when it became clear that HJR 3 could be a political liability for them, GOP leaders in the Senate decided to shut down the public conversation they helped create.

And the most important meeting, discussion and decision involving an issue the state’s leading Republicans pushed Hoosiers to consider took place behind closed doors, away from public scrutiny, under vows of silence.

That isn’t the way the process of self-government is supposed to work.

So, Mike Delph got taken to the woodshed – for transgressions that merited punishment.

But Delph’s not the only one involved in this mess who should have his hand slapped.

Not by a long shot.

John Krull is director of Franklin College’s Pulliam School of Journalism, host of “No Limits” WFYI 90.1 Indianapolis and publisher of, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.


  1. “Reasonable people can disagree about whether House Joint Resolution 3 even should have been part of the legislative process this year.”

    They can’t reasonably disagree without being called a bigot.

    Delph’s seat should be moved to the wood shed and never returned with him in it. But with a little work on learning how to push agendas he could teach journalism.

  2. Sounds like this Delph guy is your typical republican ahole. If you don’t agree 100% with me you’re just an idiot, liberal, communist, blah blah blah.

    • Indeed! There are a lot of those. I do agree with Krull, thought that he isn’t the only one who needs his knuckles rapped with the ruler that the sane members of his party now wield.
      Bosma needs to lose his leardership position because of the committee-shopping he did.

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