Monday, April 10, 2006

DeLay's Defense: The Hammer becomes St. Tom the Dumbass

Good-bye Tommy "the Hammer" Delay, we Hardly Knew ye.  We THOUGHT we knew you. The scheming, ruthless operative without heart or scruples who built a Republican majority by  nearly single handedly destroying civility, bi-partisanship, ethics or decency in American politics.


Oh but we were so Wrong. You were nothing but a good , decent, principled, if slightly naive man who was led astray by Bad Companions (all of whom conveniently, have already plead guilty).  You weren't an evil prick at all, but in fact the Noble Moor undone by a trio of Casio's and their ruthless ambitions.


At least that's what  Former DeLay Aide and Current MPAA lobbyist John Feehery would have us believe.  This Sunday the Washington Post published his utterly shameless attempt to re-write history on the Front page of their Op-ed section.


To me it signals that Ol'  TD is in a LOT more trouble than we previously assumed and He's already laying the groundwork for a Bernie Ebbers "nobody tells me nothin'" style defense




  Today, everyone wants to know what Tom DeLay knew and when he knew it. And I can't answer those questions.


But I do know that Tom DeLay achieved great things for the Republican majority, the Congress and for the country. He also created great controversy caused in part by his own aggressive nature, in part by his political enemies, and in part by rogue members of his own staff.



What precisely those "great things" were, strangely, are not mentioned.  However, note how already in the opening paragraphs he's already starting to shift the blame away from Delay,  who is, in his words at most only partly to blame for his own woes.  No more than a third really, the rest is the fault of evil aides and of course, political enemies.


In fact, when you really look at it TOM isn't to blame at all, merely his aggressive nature. See? He's like one of those unfortunate Type A souls who identify their greatest flaw in job interviews as "working TOO hard"


You see, Tom wasn't evil, he just had evil friends

It's a Meme that Feehery will hit early and often in this oversized mash-note.  Watch the subtle deflection of blame for this early example of Tom's propensity for slander and character assassination:




It was my first week as Tom DeLay's communications director in late 1995. And we were already in crisis.


On the House floor, DeLay had gotten into a shoving match with a Wisconsin Democrat named Dave Obey. I had no idea what had happened.


While I worked the phones trying to figure out the details, our press secretary, Tony Rudy, wasn't waiting for the facts. He started telling reporters that Obey had called Tom an obscenity too graphic to print in this newspaper.

Later, I asked Tom if it was true.


No, he said, he had never actually heard Obey utter the alleged insult. I called reporters to tell them we couldn't confirm the rumor.{ NB. "couldn't confirm rather than "to tell them my own guy said it was a complete crock}  But, of course, it was too late. The rumor had come in part from our own office. And I had my crash course in spin control as played by some members of Team DeLay.



(Historians may wish to note, even at this early date we see a fully formed fossil of the Big Lie, the workhorse of the Republican dirty-tricks playbook)


See? it wasn't Tom Delay who slandered another member of Congress after physically assaulting him, no no. It was Team Delay, particularly, his Evil Aide Tony Rudy.  


Of course, the Feehery fails to mention why Good Tom the Honorable, didn't immediately set the record straight and fire Rudy.  Ya know, the thing which it seems any honest man would have done in his place?  Maybe like our president, his flaw is also he's too darn loyal to people that let him down. He wouldn't want to hurt their feelings by telling them they screwed up after all.  Remember, "there is no "You F*'ed Up" in Team".


And let it be noted that Feehery, pulls no punches in identifying other Bad Companions of Mr. Delay's  as well, who led him astray.  As it happens there were Three:




The overwhelming majority of DeLay's staffers were professional, honest and working in Congress for the right reasons. But Tom prized the most aggressive staffers and most often heeded their counsel. As it turned out, three of them went over the line, abused the trust of House members and seemingly broke the law. A former hockey player, Tony Rudy was DeLay's enforcer; he wasn't evil, but lacked maturity and would do whatever necessary to protect his patron. Ed Buckham, DeLay's chief of staff, gatekeeper and minister, constantly pushed DeLay to be more radical in his tactics and spun webs of intrigue we are only now beginning to unravel. And Michael Scanlon, who, in my experience, was a first-class rogue and a master of deception.


Now, I'm sure this will come as a total shock to you, but it just so happens that these three just happen to be same three aides who have either plead guilty or are facing federal criminal charges.   And I' absolutely certain that Feehery's public denunciation of these men exclusively of all Delay's aides has nothing to do with the fact that they are all now cooperating with federal authorities to provide evidence against Good St. Tom.


And notice how Feehery tries to erase the OTHER radioactive elephant in the room with a flick of a paragraph:




In those early days, Jack Abramoff was not a significant presence in our office; we knew him mainly as a friend of Buckham's.


See? In  Feehery's desperate attempt at retro-hagiography  he reduces the  footprint of incredibly guilty slimeball Jack Abramoff.  Gone is the uber-fundraiser/fixer who greased the wheels of The Hammer's Machine.  Nowhere to be found is the man Tom Delay embraced, golfed with and famously called his "Good and dear friend".  Instead he's no more than a friend of Ed Buckham, Delay's aide.


In the Most Shameless, moment of the article (and trust me this was a hard choice given it's contents), Feehery even tries to rehabilitate the Sleaziest thing Tom Delay ever did (and trust me this was a hard choice given his career).


  Apparently DeLay's outrageous deep-sixing of a DOJ human rights investigations into the Northern Marianas's Slave-labor Sweatshops  WASN'T a blatant example of "Money Talks Politics"   NO, to our collective shock Tom Delay protected those Dickensian factories out of principle.




in early 1997 to meet with government officials of Saipan, who were fighting hard to keep Congress and the Clinton administration from imposing minimum-wage and other labor laws. As a former small-business owner, DeLay hated minimum-wage laws and other government mandates, so it was a pretty easy sell.


Oh the Poor Poor Bugman!  I imagine that he was forever scarred by having to fork over a whole $4.50 every hour to his minions who only  had to risk cancer and the ability to reproduce to spray his wonderful Chemicals!  especially when he could have gotten twice as many Mexicans for the same price!


To heear Feehery tell it,  one can almost see  DeLay pacing in his Congressional offices fuming at these horrible indignities, looking Ahab-like for revenge on this federal behemoth that had so hindered his right to capitalism.   Suddenly!  There in the Sky someone is calling for help with  Adam Smith's Invisible Hand Beacon.


   "quick Feehery! the Federal Government is preparing to  

    spoil the Free market paradise that is the Northern    

    Marianas Islands!  To the Bat(sh*t) Jet!"


   "What?  we Don't have a BatJet?  Well see if Buckham's

   friend,  what's his name? Abramoff!  see if he can get us

    one."


    "Holy happy coincidences, he just happened to be

    planning a trip there himself boss!  You'll have to

    suffer with 5-star hotel accommodations and endless

     rounds of Golf on the nearby resorts, but It's for  

     a good cause!"


Oddly, also absent from Feehery's fantasy are any mention of the OTHER labor abuses by  the NMI Factories.  He never really explains Tom's support for practices such as :  forcing female workers into sexual slavery, Locking employees into their dorms at night or even forcing pregnant workers to have abortions.  But that too I'm sure had something to do with his deeply felt conservative principles.


There is more of this Glurge, but this being a Monday and wanting to spare your potentially delicate digestive systems I think I'll stop with one more excerpt. In  the interests of fairness;  I hereby warm those who might be diabetic or already feel their gorge rising to avoid it altogether.  


Apparently,  worried that he was being too subtle or insufficiently obsequious up to this point Feehery closes his article thusly:



Yet, watching him announce his resignation last week brought me great sadness -- sadness that a politician so gifted could take such a fall. DeLay was an amazing legislator, probably the most talented this town has seen since Lyndon Baines Johnson. But like all great men, Tom DeLay had great talents and one great weakness.  In his case, it was some staff members run amok. In the end, that weakness forced him to step down.



Why he's not even Shakespearian, he's positively Erupidean is wot he is!   Here all this time I thought what laid him low was his lack of ethics, or his wanton disregard for the law, or his reckless willingness to put the good of his party and donors over the good of the country.  


 Silly Me.


  Apparently the truth is it was that nightmare of the HR departments everywhere;  Bad Staffers Gone Wild, that laid the great man out.   The Poor bugger, all that talent at judging and manipulating and controlling people, and he's brought down by his inability to judge, or control his own staff.  It's bloody Ironic it is.  Not to mention a complete non-sequitur


Isn't it odd that after 10 years on the Hill and literally thousands of stories with millions of words written about Delay and his operation, this is the very first we've heard of  Tom's weak willed nature and his propensity to be dominated by his overbearing staffers?  


So what's really going one here?


Well, I will make no claim to psychic powers but I DO have a legal education, and I'm seeing the beginnings of  a now-familiar pattern emerging.   Like the great corporate CEO's Tom held up for contributions and doled out billions in favors to, Delay seems to be laying the framework for a Dumbass Defense.  


Like  Healthsouth's Richard Srcushy and Worldcom's Bernie Ebbers and of course Enron's Ken Lay, Delay is trying to reposition himself from ruthless, brilliant, Master of the Universe , to mildly retarded simpleton  who was lied to by untrustworthy underlings, all of whom conveniently have already been convicted of crimes.  


It's become the fashionable defense of last resort among the incredibly guilty,  this season and to me it says volumes that Delay is already laying the groundwork for it.

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