Army of Dicks Goes After Dick Armey


In a teaparty hit-piece swimming with such gleeful condescenscion that he compares protesters to hobby-store black-helicopter glue-sniffers in the second paragraph, L.A. lefty Marc Cooper gets Dick Armey flat wrong.

Not defending the wealthy

Then again, this rash of tea parties is being organized not only by the pseudo-journalists at Fox News (with Glenn Beck, Neil Cavuto and Sean Hannity actively stoking the flames) but also by FreedomWorks, a conservative lobbying outfit headed by former House Majority Leader Dick Armey. I suppose it was Armey's constitutional if morally dubious privilege to have built an entire political career out of defending the wealthy. […]

The FreedomWorks site says the Tea Party movement began in reaction to President Obama's corporate bailouts and ensuing yawning budget deficits. These same conservatives, however, were mum when George W. Bush erased our budget surplus and put us deep in the red by drunken spending on a pointless war in Iraq and by, yes, granting massive tax rollbacks for the loaded country clubbers who fund the GOP (and Armey's FreedomWorks). Another bothersome detail: The bailouts were also initiated by Bush.

These same conservatives? Really? How about, I dunno, FreedomWorks President Matt Kibbe. Here he is writing for Reason Online last Oct. 2. Note that the president at the time was not named "Obama":

Which one works for FreedomWorks?

Over the past several days, I have found myself in the most unusual of positions: defending myself and the organization I work for, FreedomWorks, for to having clung to "ideology" and "principle" in opposing the bailout plan racing through Congress. I had never heard the word principle used so much as a pejorative. You know the tone in someone's voice when they clearly understand the world and are trying to explain it to someone, well, simple. What was even more interesting was who was doing the scolding. Friends and fellow travelers in the free-market movement, businessmen, Republicans, and limited-government conservatives all took time to tell me how wrong I was.

Their argument: "Something has to be done." One old friend went so far as to blame FreedomWorks for the 750 point loss in the stock market Tuesday, the "freezing" of capital availability to small businessmen, and all of the economic misery to come, all because we have loudly objected to Treasury Secretary Paulson's $700 billion-plus bailout for failing investment banks on Wall Street. […]

So my question to my critics is simply this: What good are principles if you are willing to throw them out the window every time they prove inconvenient?

Or here's big Dick himself, last Sept. 29:

Something's fishy, Dick!

My friends and former colleagues on the Hill, under tremendous pressure from the Beltway establishment, have been asking me all weekend where I stand on the proposed bailout. Understanding that it is a much more difficult question for a sitting member of Congress to answer, my answer is: "No, I would not." Too often, it seems that self-professed small-government conservatives come to this town to fight the good fight. Somehow, we do things we ought not to be doing in order to stay in office so we can do things we ought to be doing. But we never actually get around to doing the right things.

The difficult question each member of Congress faces today is simply this: Do you believe that the political process, having produced many of the perverse incentives that resulted in our economy's current predicament, can solve these underlying distortions by essentially doing more of the same? I believe the answer to this question is unequivocally NO.

An equally important question: As an elected official who took the oath of office swearing to defend and uphold the Constitution, should you today feel a greater allegiance to a president, or a political party? I believe that answer is, emphatically, NO.

This is a big vote, one likely to be studied and second-guessed for decades to come. But government's first responsibility is to protect the freedoms and individual liberty of every American. As a free-market economist I unequivocally oppose this legislation because it violates the basic working tenets of free-market capitalism and individual responsibility.

Not very ambiguous, is it? Portraying Dick Armey and his organization as an amen chorus to big-government Republicans is just willful ignorance. Which, I suppose, is marginally more defensible than cold making shit up, which Cooper does here:

Nobody I know is very pleased with the billions ladled out to teetering banks and corporations. Yet a clear majority of Americans are sophisticated enough to know that these bailouts are a necessary evil and are intended -- unlike the lollipop Bush tax cuts -- not for personal profit but rather as a radical, emergency measure to help Americans keep their jobs, their homes and their retirement.

A "clear majority of Americans" are pro-bailout? How on earth did I miss that poll?

Here's a stone truth: Every political protest, and indeed just about every political gathering, is filled with kooks, on account of America is kooky! A commentator's protest kook-detector works great when he disagrees with the protest, then gets turned off when the kooks on his side get busy. It has ever been thus, and it will always be.