SPADES | politicians

TOM DELAY: 10 of spades
(CH, CS, B, CW) (what do these signs mean?)

Tom delay is a piece of work. Of all the Chicken Hawks who now attack the patriotism of George W. Bush's critics, DeLay came up with perhaps the strangest reason why when given the chance, he did not serve his country in uniform: minorities had taken up all the spaces, and so he couldn't go. A breath taking act of altruism for sure. Be still, my heart, at the man's nobility. Or should it be "be still, my gut, at the man's obscenity."? You decide.


Hypocrisy has long been a mainstay in Tom DeLay's way of doing things. When Clinton sent American forces into the Balkans, to prevent genocide there, DeLay was among the loudest critics. Americans were getting shot at and DeLay spoke of "Clinton's war" and denied that a crisis that could potentially lead to war between NATO allies was important for American interests. Yet now, DeLay denounces as unpatriotic any criticism of Bush, or concern for his habit of lying when asked to give reasons for his policies.


If self-righteousness could turn to gold, Tom DeLay might become the world's richest man. Writing for the Washington Post Magazine, Peter Berl reports that as he and DeLay left the First Baptist Church, he asked the pious representative "about the many citizens who would be quite uncomfortable with the idea that he would mold the government in the belief that his religion - fundamentalist Christianity - had the only answers to society's problems.

"DeLay looks me squarely in the eye and shakes his head sadly. 'When faced with the truth, the truth hurts. It is human nature not to face that . . . People hate the messenger. That's why they killed Christ.'"

The Washington Post

Tom DeLay says he supports the Constitution, but perhaps that is only because he never read it. For example, in DeLay's views, public schools should teach Creationism in their science classes, the government should display the Ten Commandments, and should allow plenty of tax exempt church electioneering - creating a privileged class of politicos compared to the rest of us mere citizens.

DeLay speaks frequently at radical Right Christian gatherings, such as "Worldview Weekend." There he announced that God "is giving us this opportunity to change our culture.... He is giving us grand and great opportunities to stand up for Him, and He's giving it from the top, the president of the United States, all the way to Pearland [where the conference was being held]."

Marshall Foster, who also spoke at the gathering, was a bit more blunt. "Do you want political dominion over America? I do." Marshall's version of Christianity, like DeLay's, is ultra-Fundamentalist, attacking even public education as anti-Biblical. His ideal in American history was the Puritan colonies which were famous for forbidding any other version of Christianity than their own to be practiced - to the point of exiling or executing those who did not bow to the leaders' dictates. These communities were also not democratic, but ruled over by church leaders. (Church & State, June, 2002)

On July 10, 2001, DeLay said he supports "standing up and rebuking this notion that has been imposed upon us over the last 40 or 50 years. You see, I don't believe there is a separation of church and state." DeLay's history is pretty bad, with the Supreme Court affirming that a "wall" exists between the two constitutionally as far back as 1879. That's over 100 years, Tom.


Thomas Jefferson would disagree. Compare his words to DeLay's. In his Autobiography Jefferson described the process by which the Virginia legislature finally passed a bill for religious freedom, an accomplishment Jefferson thought more important than his serving as President of the U.S.

Where the preamble declares that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, an amendment was proposed, by inserting the word 'Jesus Christ,' so that it should read, 'a departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion;' the insertion was rejected by a great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and the Mahometan, the Hindoo, and Infidel of every denomination.


Jefferson didn't write the Constitution. He only wrote the Declaration of Independence. So let's look at James Madison, who is often referred to as the "Father" of the Constitution. Mardison wrote: "The number, the industry, and the morality of the priesthood, and the devotion of the people have been manifestly increased by the total separation of the Church from the State." It can't be put much more clearly than that.

The fact of the matter is that Tom DeLay neither understands nor sympathizes with the principles that made this country great. He is deeply and radically un-American.

But DeLay is subverting more than the Constitution. The most discerning of conservative Christians see that he is also subverting religion. Cal Thomas, for example, has put the point well:

I personally don't want [the US] to be a Christian nation for the same reason that I don't want the federal government aiding the church. I think Bush's whole faith-based initiative thing is one of the biggest camel noses in the tent that I have seen in my life. I wasn't aware that God declared bankruptcy under Chapter 11. There is no mandate or expectation in Scripture that the state should do the work of the things of God.


DeLay's so-called Christianity is so over the top that he warned Texas parents not to send their children to Texas A&M or Baylor because they did not teach Creationism. Baylor is owned by the Southern Baptists, by the way. Compare Jefferson and Madison's wise words with those of a man who by no stretch of the imagination can be honestly said to speak within the American tradition. He is a man from the Dark Ages, a barbarian with access to discoveries made possible by science and freedom, neither of which he understands or would tolerate, if he had the power. And he wants the power.

To self-righteousness, hypocrisy, and ignorance we can add cruelty.

In June, 2003, DeLay sabotaged $3.5 billion in tax credits for the children of poor and low income families, about 12 million in all. He held assistance to them hostage, demanding in return for letting the measure pass another $78.5 billion in tax cuts for far more wealthy Americans, who had already benefited from many previous tax cuts. That tax cut didn't pass, and poor children, even of tax paying parents, didn't get the cuts that went to most other Americans, disproportionately the most wealthy.

DeLay's compassion for the rich and disdain for the poor makes sense when we understand what he expects in return from those who are well off. Now that he is House Majority Leader, and more influential than the Speaker, whom he hopes to replace, DeLay can use his power to help his allies and injure his opponents.

DeLay's political action committee, ARMPAC, enables him to dole out millions to his allies, buying support for crucial votes. In 2000-2002 DeLay raised $12.8 million. That buys a lot of influence. Because government is so big, and so much money is at stake, large companies contribute both to buy favors and to prevent being attacked. The line between bribery and extortion is very hard to draw in American politics today.

Westar is an energy company whose CEO, David Wittig, wanted more influence in government. Westar's management had developed "a plan for participation to get a seat at the table" by contributing to "a group of candidates associated with Tom Delay [sic.], Billy Tauzin [and] Joe Barton" for the purpose of inserting the exemption into the bill. The plan detailed a schedule of "hard" and "soft" money contributions from Westar and its executives to influential Republicans. The memos stated that Tauzin and Barton were "key House Conferees on our legislation" and that DeLay's "agreement is necessary before the House Conferees can push the language we have in place in the House bill." After making a $20,000 contribution, Westar's preferred language was added to an energy bill.

The memos are public because Westar's board of directors, acting like a real board of directors instead of CEO lapdogs, released hundreds of internal communications implicating the company's top management in many fraudulent and unethical activities.


Enron was also a major contributor to Tom DeLay's slush fund. They gave $140,000. It was a good investment. For example, DeLay helped Enron muscle its way into a contract that had already been awarded to a Japanese firm to build a $120 million power plant for the Marianas. Enron got the deal and the Marianas are still without the plant. Crony capitalism, DeLay style.


But no tax rebates to poor kids, rebates averaging under $300 not a lot, but enough for some dental appointments and maybe some school books. Poor kids don't make political contributions.

Of course Tom DeLay tells us that his "biblical worldview" determines his political decisions. God "is using me, all the time, everywhere, to stand up for biblical worldview in everything that I do and everywhere I am."


To self-righteousness, hypocrisy, ignorance and cruelty we can now add pride. Louis XIV, one of France's most despotic kings, is famous for his statement "L'etat c'est moi" which in English is "I am the state." This massive ego trip has now been duplicated in America. In a downtown Washington, DC steak house, DeLay was attending a fund raiser for ARMPAC. He wanted to smoke a cigar while in the restaurant. The manager told him he couldn't because they leased their space from the federal government, and smoking in restaurants was prohibited on federal property. DeLay reportedly replied "I am the federal government." The US is not France under Louis XIV, the manager stood his ground, and DeLay had a small lesson in that American principle of equality under the law. He went elsewhere to smoke.

The Washington Post

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