When the “tea party” phenomenon broke out, believed to be inspired by Rick Santelli’s painfully oblivious Post-TARP rant about the pitfalls of helping those in financial distress, I was like many Americans – confused but interested. Maybe this was more than the most reactionary elements of the Republican Party finding an excuse to demonize a black president. Maybe this was more than astroturfing plutocrats trying to throw up roadblocks made of lunatics at new business regulations. Maybe this was more than a parade of parasitic self-promoters swiping some airtime and ratings for themselves at the expense of civil society. Maybe, honest to God, this was a sincere movement reasonably concerned with fiscal responsibility. And then Dick Armey showed up.
For those not familiar with the former House Majority Leader let me by way of introduction paraphrase Jack Abramoff’s famous prologue about Tom Delay – Dick Armey is the kind of scumbag every two-bit beltway hack wants to be when they grow out of their larva stage. Before the ink was dry on his resignation letter he jumped into Washington lobbying to leverage all his “public service” to the highest bidder – which at least prevented him from calling his political opponents “fags” on the floor of the House of Representatives. Being a congressman was just a stepping stone to being a high paid lobbyist.
But more to the point – as House Majority Leader he oversaw astronomical amounts of spending increases. You could hardly find a less credible source for reining in spending or managing the national debt. You know that “politicians in Washington who can’t control spending” line that every 30 second spot in the last two election cycles features? Yeah, it’s about Dick Armey. It should be the title of his biography. It is a crystallization of the sum total of his career as a public official in Washington. Dick Armey was a complete abysmal failure at stopping the growth in government spending. Which is tragic because he ran on controlling spending in nearly every election he ran in, which includes the 1994 sweep based on the Contract With America - a document he helped write.
So now Dick Armey is leaving Astroturf Inc. FreedomWorks causing bitter disunion amongst the leadership and, oh yeah, taking a nice wad of cash in his hands on the way out:
When the news broke in early December that former GOP Rep. Dick Armey had abruptly resigned as chairman of FreedomWorks, a powerhouse of the conservative movement and an instrumental force within the tea party, Armey maintained that the nasty split was due to differences he had with the top management of FreedomWorks about the group’s operations and future. Immediately, media reports disclosed that Armey had been concerned that Matt Kibbe, the group’s president, had used FreedomWorks resources to promote a book he had written (which was released in June) and that Armey himself had received an $8 million payout from a FreedomWorks board member to ease his departure.
Well played Dick.