Column: Tom DeLay, My Hero

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Mr. Carpenter is a writer and doctoral candidate in American history at the University of Illinois and a columnist for HNN.

11In these times of cultural upheaval and social uncertainty, all too often we feel adrift. It seems a heroless age, one in which we yearn for a rock, a beacon of stability, a champion of certitude. In that sense, Tom DeLay is the man of our dreams. Never adrift himself, he’s always the same.

11At least he has been since 1985. That, according to a lengthy profile in the Washington Post last May, is the year he quit drinking. As a freshman congressman he was downing up to a dozen martinis a night, doing absolutely no one any harm. Then he watched a James Dobson video on proper daddyhood, put away the gin, and became the meanest teetotaler of the modern era. It was a dark day for America when Tom sobered up. Since then he’s been a leading voice of political depravity--not to mention giving sobriety a bad name--opposing gun control, clean air, clean water, corporate product-liability, reproductive rights, homosexual rights, occupational-health rights, a higher minimum wage, and campaign finance reform. To break the monotony he occasionally adds nuggets of insight such as suggesting day care is responsible for school shootings.

11And we can always count on DeLay and his values--family values. As of last May he hadn’t seen his mother in 2 years, but that could be because she lives so far away from Tom: 10 miles. There are personal values he’s imparted to his staff, as well. For instance, on loving one’s enemy there was this e-mail exchange between subordinates: “This whole thing about not kicking someone when they are down is BS....You kick him until he passes out--then beat him over the head with a baseball bat.” Of course when the congressman is feeling down he has his friends, such as former Texas Ranger and County Sheriff Milton Wright, who said of Tom: “He can kiss my ass.”

11Be that as it may, his more affectionate constituents must have believed that somewhere along his curious path he was looking out for their private interests--which in politics nearly always means financial interests--and was thus worthy of a permanent D.C. address. They must have believed that, that is, until Enron. Even chock-full precincts of hallelujah-screaming Christian Coalitioners surely must have figured out by now that good-old Tom has done ‘em wrong.

11Here’s a man--the majority whip, no less; smack in the bulls-eye of Washington’s insider dartboard--who’s dumped almost $30,000 from Enron into his own political war chest. From 1995 to 2000 he dumped another $57,250 from Enron into his political action committee. In the year 2000 yet another outfit, the Republican Majority Issues Committee--"a group widely considered close to Mr. DeLay," according to the New York Times--realized $75,000 from Enron. Those are just the funds the public is legally entitled to know about. On top of all that, two former DeLay staffers have worked as lobbyists for Enron.

I’m not conspiracy-minded, but with all that money coming and going; with two key DeLay operatives prowling the halls of Congress as Enron lobbyists; with Enron executives stampeding for private legal advice since last fall; and with Enron’s chairman hastily bailing water in the form of stock from the Titanic since last summer--do you think, my dear Christian Coalitioners, do you perchance think that Tom just might have caught wind of something going south downtown? Do you think maybe Tom isn’t entirely honest when he says he knew nothing of Enron’s troubles, and offers only that he finds the situation “heartbreaking”?

Now I’m not an angry white male from Texas’ 22nd congressional district wanting to send Washington a message. But if I were an angry white male from Texas’ 22nd congressional district wanting to send Washington a message, I’d find myself another messenger boy. Wouldn’t you, my dear Christian Coalitioners? Not that there’s much of one, but you’ll have a chance later this year. On the other hand, Tom’s 2000 opponent only ran because she said God told her to while she sat waiting at a stoplight (the opponent, not God). The Lord then blessed her with 40 percent of the vote.

DeLay of course isn’t personally responsible for Enron’s collapse. But he is the paladin of a campaign finance system that permits the Enrons of this world to have its way with would-be regulators, which is partly, if not largely, the cause of the whole mess. And though he’s a true leader when it comes to knowing how best to wrench protection money from business-school delinquents, Delay is also merely a symptom of the oozing, pus-filled plague of political finance which we happily call a part of our democratic form of government. He wasn’t alone when standing in line as these corporate gangsters were passing out cash. Since 1989 the war chests of congressional Democrats Ken Bentsen and Sheila Jackson Lee of Houston turf have pocketed $42,750 and $38,000 respectively.

Yet while others may change their ways, Tom won’t. He’s still the selfsame “malicious goblin” I referred to in another journal a couple years ago and likely to remain that way. (You’ll kindly note the use of quotation marks, even though I’m self-quoting, I’m a trifle spooky of Ambrositis.) He’s still a rock, our beacon of stability, and corrupt to the core. He’ll leave Washington that way, sooner or later. Meanwhile, Tom should return to martinis. It might do his little Grinch-heart some good and it sure as hell can’t hurt.

© Copyright 2001 P. M. Carpenter

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More Comments:

Amanda Kato - 11/9/2003

Tom chickenhawk Delay is a very mean spirited man and what part of the new testament is he claiming to live by. I recall a scripture that says "Do no harm to any man".Also Blessed are the Peacemakers. Archie Bunker was more tolerant of other viewpoints than this exterminator. Seems a dry drunk has a thirst that has been replaced from martinis to Blood.
Maybe Blood and oil, but whatever replaced the thirst...I am sure his just rewards are waiting for him beyond this world. From the fruit he bears, I would say, it is a good thing he lives in Texas....Migher hot in Texas. Mighty Hot in Hell.

Jose Alfredo Bach - 1/27/2002

But maybe nearly. Here in TX the only thing for which we can be grateful is that the Lege only meets every other year. You must have a very low opinion of Mexicans if you think it possible that they might want Tx back.

By the way have you noticed any difference in the governement since the Brush left? Have you tried the Texas Observer?

Solidarity forever.


Greg Piper - 1/23/2002

Wow, Tom Delay has (gasp) conservative beliefs, with a few notable aberrations in his personal life. He took a lot of money from Enron, but so did Paul Krugman of the New York Times (who is playing it down more than any congressman, Repub or Dem). As Jonah Goldberg of NRO has noted, if corporations didn't have any way of influencing politicians, any majority of people could vote horrific legislation on businesses and it would be awful for both workers and the economy at large. And you wonder why he got elected? He's damn effective! They don't call him "The Hammer" for nothing. I've yet to see Tom Daschle be half as effective as Tommy Boy.

J Fox - 1/21/2002

Thanks for the article on Tom Delay. I have lived in Texas for seven years and still don't know why the sucessionists here weren't allowed to go on there merry way. Or why a movement to give the whole state back to Mexico hasn't garnered more steam in the rest of the rational country. With the pendulum swung so far in the direction of the Bush's, Delay's and Armey's of the world I'd be willing to give it some thought or backing.
Unfortunately, they breed angry white men down here as prodigously as they do long horns. Maybe when the price of beef gets high enough the market will switch.

Anyway, thanks for letting me know I'm not completely mad down here in Hell's Out House.