Sunday, August 16, 2009

Rachel Maddow vs. Dick Armey (even Joe Scarborough thinks he's a scumbag)

On shortly here in H-Town will be a Press the Meat edition featuring Rachel Maddow of MSNBC and Dick Armey, former House majority leader and also formerly of the law firm DLA Piper. Maddow exposed the "grassroot" efforts of the conservative group FreedomWorks and their connections to DLA Piper, Armey's employer until a few days ago. But HuffPo has another side of the story ...

It was one of those ugly Washington stories that everybody knows about but almost nobody talks about. Joe Scarborough, to his credit, went on the record. In his 2004 Washington memoir, Rome Wasn't Burnt in a Day, Scarborough provides a chilling portrait of the man who leads FreedomWorks, the organization now promoting brownshirt disruptions at town halls across America.

Before he headed Freedomworks, Dick Armey was House Majority Leader. According to Scarborough, Armey was bereft of common decency, a shameless liar who betrayed his colleagues. Armey worked hard to destroy the career of a young reporter. After that reporter's suicide, Armey helped spread rumors about a gay affair between the reporter and Bill Paxon, a congressman who angled to replace Armey as House Leader. Paxon immediately retired from politics, while Armey stayed on. It seemed a life-imitates-art reenactment of the 1959 potboiler, Advice and Consent.

If Scarborough was disgusted by Armey, his Republican colleagues seemed unfazed. They kept Armey in his leadership post until 2003. Character is destiny, and Scarborough's portrait of Armey may foreshadow the ugly tactics of the teabagging crowd that attempts to shout down the healthcare debate.

In the book, Scarborough outs himself as the confidential source for Sandy Hume's blockbuster article for The Hill, which recounted the behind-the-scenes drama of an aborted Republican coup. In July 1997, G.O.P House members, including Scarborough, were fed up with House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who proved to be incompetent when it came to working with people or getting things done. The planned putsch by some twenty-odd renegade members failed because of a last-minute betrayal by House Majority Leader Dick Armey, who turned on his colleagues after learning that Bill Paxon, not Armey, was designated to succeed Gingrich.

More on the suicide of Brit Hume's son, Sandy, the gay slur against he and Armey rival Bill Paxon which allegedly resulted in the self-inflicted death of the younger Hume, and the backstory of all this occurring during l'affaire Clinton-Lewinsky.

Meet the Press this morning might get really interesting, don't you think?


Rachel Maddow appeared on "Meet the Press" for the first time on Sunday, August 16th. On a panel with former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.), former House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-Texas), and Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), the MSNBC host more than held her own.

When Armey said he took no responsibility "whatsoever" for the virulent protests against President Obama and compared it to running an ad comparing President Bush to Hitler, Maddow pointed out that that never actually happened. Later she elaborated, pointing out that major conservative groups had speakers going around the country comparing Obama to Hitler, Pol Pot and Stalin and asking supporters to put the fear of God in their congresspeople. When Armey said that he denounced violence, Maddow pointed out that his organization, FreedomWorks, was in a coalition whose website was promoting the violent fight at a Tampa town hall as a good thing.

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