In many ways, The Big Buy plays out like a weird hybrid between a classical Greek tragedy and an American morality play. It has all the elements of power absolutely corrupting those who wield it. If left to its own devices, it is almost impossible to walk away from this documentary feeling a little bit of moral superiority. Surely, we all would have acted differently under such circumstances, right? Surely, we’re all made of better moral fiber. If it wasn’t 2014 and we were just watching this movie in 2006, it would be very tempting to dismiss Tom DeLay as just another casualty of the Washington Machine: a congressman from the hinterlands that got taken in by the system and he let its corruption and power rot away his soul.
You can almost feel the tangible finger wagging and heads shaking in morally self-satisfied disgust. Thankfully, we have the hindsight of his 2013 acquittal. Things that looked like black and white in the play turned out to be gray. And since we’re actually living in one of the few countries in the world where you have to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, DeLay was able to show that the evidence stacked up against him wasn’t up to snuff-at least according to American standards. And this is precisely the kind of factoid that leaves one walking away from this film feeling a little bit dirtier (source).
You have to see The Big Buy with the hindsight of DeLay’s 2013 acquittal. Otherwise, it would be too easy to become part of the moral wolf pack ready to condemn him. The reality is that there was very little substantive evidence against him. At least it didn’t’ legally fit the elements that would have secured his conviction. Still, the Big Buy and his presentation of DeLay succeeds in getting audiences in 2006 and beyond to convict DeLay morally if not legally. Which begs the question: can you really lay moral blame on someone who is just effective at what he does?
If DeLay were meek and docile, it would be a surprise if he would have attracted as much heat and anger as he did. But consider it a character flaw or the right character set at the right time, DeLay was effective, brutal, and to the point. He made things happen. And as The Big Buy shows-he had to pay for being so damn effective.