Book Review, Congress, Culture, Domestic, Issue — May 2, 2007 at 3:57 pm

Lame Duck

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Indicted former Republican House Majority Leader Tom Delay is a born fighter, a fact he makes clear in his aptly titled new book, No Retreat, No Surrender: One American’s Fight. DeLay’s distinguished service in the armed forces culminated in numerous awards for bravery on the battlefield in Vietnam… no, wait: DeLay never served in the military. Instead, he received multiple student deferments, even after getting expelled from Baylor University in 1967, but no matter—he’s been working overtime to catch up, fighting for what he believes in.

“I remain unyielding about my fight in Congress, my fights in the courts, and my fight for the hearts and minds of the American people,” says The Hammer.

The former pest exterminator’s aggressive inclinations are matched in fervor only by his love for Jesus Christ. It is a love that guides his political conservatism, the “epitome of compassion,” according to radio show host Rush Limbaugh’s foreword to the book. It is, indeed, a love that instills in DeLay the confidence to keep fighting for relevance when lesser men would have retreated. Humiliated by numerous charges of corruption, including an indictment for conspiracy to violate campaign finance law, a man might consider backing down. Not DeLay.

On the political front, DeLay acknowledges that the Republican Revolution was a team effort. He appreciates the contributions of his fellow Republicans in the fight for the principles of conservatism and, more generally, the well-being of the country. On Newt Gingrich, the public face of the Republicans after they took Congress in 1994: “An ineffective speaker of the House… It was impossible to follow him.” About Dick Armey, his fellow Texan who served as Majority Leader before DeLay: “Beware the man drunk with ambition.” Regarding Mark Foley, who resigned his Florida seat after revelations that he was sending sexual messages to male pages: “Homosexuality is a perverse lifestyle and a sin before God.” George W. Bush? Dick Cheney? Denny Hastert? “Not an articulate voice among them.”

Nonetheless, DeLay recognizes that Americans of all political stripes are committed to their country. They should be perceived respectfully as opponents, not enemies: “I have learned something about liberals. They are a lot like communists… Liberalism is an early stage of the same evil I experienced in Havana.” DeLay also values the Christian beliefs in mercy and redemption. No stranger to adultery himself, DeLay forgave former President Bill Clinton for his philandering behavior: “I openly admit that I just don’t like the man, and my disgust is both personal and political… The truth is that Bill Clinton was slimy… had to be impeached.”

DeLay is a man humbled by Jesus Christ, and dares not exaggerate his own importance: “I stood in the way of liberalism’s grasp for power… I had to be destroyed.” Nor does he make himself into a Christ-like martyr: “since 1996 there has been a coordinated effort to make me the poster boy for the culture of corruption in Washington… These conspirators have sought to drive me from office … with the politics of personal destruction.”

Which brings us, finally, to accountability. DeLay knows that true compassionate conservatism (“President Bush may be compassionate, but he is certainly no conservative”) requires commitment to the ethos of personal responsibility. In that vein, DeLay has come clean about his own behavior; he notes that all charges are completely false and part of an elaborate witchhunt by the “vast left-wing conspiracy.”

In his book, he catalogues ten lies about himself, countering each of them with the truth. The chart below, entirely in his own words, documents both these lies and DeLay’s defense of his conduct:

But perhaps it is unfair to equate passages from a DeLay book with the thoughts of DeLay himself. Pundit Chris Matthews made this mistake in late March. When Matthews pointed out the “drunk with ambition” quotation (page 155, fourth line from the bottom), DeLay was incredulous, insisting that he never wrote the phrase. DeLay was simply being the same honest and upstanding fellow he’s always been since he found Jesus Christ. Clearly, his co-author Stephen Mansfield, best known for his book The Faith of George W. Bush, needs to give him a few lessons in ghostwriting.

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