An Exclusive Mini-Interview With Tom DeLay
Yesterday, I got together with former Majority Leader Tom DeLay for a short interview. What follows is an edited transcript of our discussion.
To begin with, let me ask you a question that just about everyone in politics has been asked over the last month: why did the GOP get shellacked so badly in November?
…I think it’s (because of) a variety of reasons. On the House side, taking me out so disrupted the leadership during the time that they should have been planning for a campaign and working towards campaigns (that) they were in chaos. If you remember, I stepped down temporarily because of a Republican rule, not a Democrat rule. They didn’t know how to deal with that because no one has ever had to do that before.
Then, we had a full leadership race in January and February and it took John Boehner, I don’t know how many weeks to get up and get going. By the time that they were ready to go, it was May and that was too late. I think that had a part to play and in that part, it was difficult for them to articulate what accomplishments that they had in the 109th Congress and where they wanted to take the country in the future — and that disconnect undermined the base.
And you add to that, the incredible coalition that the Clinonistas had put together — I mean, I thought I knew the coalition, but I studied what they did and it was mind boggling, absolutely mind boggling — well funded, huge, a lot of groups working together and coordinating together…thank you, John McCain and Chris Shays — I give them more credit for the minority than anybody else because…
Campaign Finance Reform?
…McCain-Feingold destroyed the party’s ability to play on a level playing field in these elections. The Democrats created their own outside party, David Horowitz calls it the “Shadow Party;” that was awesome and huge and we had nothing to rival it.
And I’m probably oversimplifying the reason that we lost the majority…
…So we’ve got nothing to rival it. What do we do about that? How do we build our own network of that sort?
Well, first you have to realize that we have to work together as a conservative movement. The leaders of the movement have to come together and start working together under the laws, as laid out, by McCain-Feingold. We have to have a communications strategy that articulates to the American people, who I think, by and large are centered to the right, and we have to compete in the communications game. I’m trying to be a role model for that by getting involved in the blogosphere, by building a grassroots coalition, by looking at ways that we can pull people together and be united for a common agenda.
And we have to rally around an agenda. The agenda I’m pushing is: win the war on terror, fundamental tax reform, redesigning government to reflect Constitutional values — that’ll get your spending in control, fighting judicial activism, and win the culture war — end abortion as we know it. That’s an agenda that conservatives can rally around and if we compete and tell our story, people will rally around us and it will be easier to raise the money and develop the strategy to win the races we need to win in ’08.
As people who’ve followed it closely know, Ronnie Earle (District Attorney) down in Texas filed some ridiculous, politically motivated charges against you. When do you get to go to trial and clear those off the record? Also, when, as expected, his case fails against you, is there any way to get the guy impeached or hit with…misconduct charges?
No. There’s no way and certainly we looked at it. There’s no way to hold a rogue District Attorney accountable for abusing the law. I think that’s outrageous and I am hoping the Texas legislature will take a hard look at my case and — not only in my case, but the case he brought against Kay Bailey Hutchinson — and his entire career of attacking politicians with frivolous charges just to drag their name and reputations through the mud and undermine their ability to win elections. That’s his strategy. He never cares (whether) he’s going to win the case…frankly, I don’t know how long it’s going to take. Ronnie Earle is dragging it out as long as he can and right now, I’m stuck in an appeals process, and have been for eight months — and he’s just using the process to drag it out — on a ruling that ought to be easy for a first year law student. There was no law in Texas of conspiring to violate the election code when I was supposed to have broken it. They can’t find it on the books. In fact, the state passed such a law two or three years after I was supposed to have violated it. There is ex post facto in this country. So anyway, that’s ongoing. It’s the politics of personal destruction — the Democrats and the left abusing our system and using it against us. That’s not going to slow me down in fighting for what I believe in.
Now in your district, the Democrats managed to lawyer their way into a seat by keeping Shelley Sekula Gibbs’ name off the ballot.”
Do you see their continuing to hold onto that seat after the 2008 election?
Well, first of all, Shelley Sekula Gibbs — in the special election where she was on the ballot — got more votes than he did in the general election where she wasn’t on the ballot. She was able to get 42% of the vote on a write-in. That’s pretty impressive…which shows you that this district is more Republican than the Houston Chronicle and the left would lead you to believe. You’ve got people, very talented, strong, political people that are looking to run. There’s no way that Nick Lampson can survive.
Good to hear.
Now let me ask you a tough question. When you were Majority Leader, you said something that drove conservative bloggers, myself included, just absolutely nuts.
According to the Washington Times, you said,
House Majority Leader Tom DeLay said yesterday that Republicans have done so well in cutting spending that he declared an “ongoing victory,” and said there is simply no fat left to cut in the federal budget. …Asked if that meant the government was running at peak efficiency, Mr. DeLay said, “Yes, after 11 years of Republican majority we’ve pared it down pretty good.”
Do you still agree with that? Disagree with that….
I don’t agree with it as it was reported back then.
Well, I was going to ask you — were you misquoted or do you think…
Yes, I was misquoted, severely misquoted. What I was trying to say was, the low hanging fruit had been picked during the first four years of the Republican majority. It was easy to cut wasteful spending in those first four years because there was plenty of it. As we moved forward, it became more and more difficult to cut spending, yet we still did.
I just never said that the government is running efficiently. No government runs efficiently. And I never said it. That’s the point I was making — that it was getting harder and harder to cut discretionary spending and frankly, I put it in my first agenda. I wanted to go after entitlements. That’s where the real spending is and the first year of the last Congress, when I got to write an agenda, we had reconciliation as a process in there and we looked at every entitlement program, reformed every one of them, and saved 40 billion dollars. I wanted to do that every year and treat entitlements like you would appropriations and over time, get rid of entitlements as process. Entitlements should be outlawed in America. Every government program shouldn’t be on automatic pilot. It should be looked at and appropriated for every year.
I agree. That’s a good idea.
Now, tell us about why you decided to create a blog.
I think conservatives have to compete in every media that’s out there. There are some good conservative blogs, yours included, that are very good and helpful. But, there are not enough of them. We are sorely outnumbered by the left in the blogosphere and I think we’ve got to compete and I’m trying to be a role model for leadership around the country. They ought to be involved. They ought to have a blog so they can be more personable in communicating our philosophy to the American people. This medium allows us to bypass the liberal media and make a more direct appeal and we ought to be using it. We ought to be involved in movies, we ought to be involved in documentaries, we shouldn’t just (let the left have those mediums to themselves). Any time the New York Times writes something outrageous, all of us ought to jump on it and chastise them for it. The left does that to us and if you look at the comments made on my blog in less than 24 hours, they’re going to try to shut me down by attacking me. When was the last time the Republicans or conservatives attacked the left for their outrageous comments or outrageous activities? We don’t attack. It’s time to start attacking and be aggressive about what you believe and fighting for your beliefs.
Now, tell us a little bit about the grass roots organization that you’re starting, G.A.I.N. Tell us a little bit about that.
Well, I just feel like there are a lot of people out there that, if given some leadership and projects to work on in order to advance the conservative cause, they will spend some of their time in doing that and I’m looking for those people. We have a lot of projects that we could do to advance the conservative movement and if people join our organization, G.A.I.N., they can participate in as many projects as they want to or not participate in any and just get the information. People are out there that believe in what I believe and where we want to take this country and they want to do something about it. We’re giving them a way to do that.
Now, we’re finishing up here. Is there anything else you’d like to say or promote before we finish?
No, I think you’ve covered it pretty well.
Excellent. I really appreciate your time. Best of luck with your new blog.
You can read more from Tom DeLay by clicking here to go to his new blog.