Morning Report 4/14/05
That's Right Christian of You, Tom

Still king of the Hill, DeLay allows judges to live

DeLay-and-Kennedy-2002.jpg

Let us spray: Veteran bug extinguisher Tom DeLay (far right) receives the 2002 Distinguished Christian Statesman Award from Florida evangelist D. James Kennedy


There's no question that Tom DeLay, a former bug exterminator from Sugar Land, Texas, is the king of Capitol Hill.

The House majority leader is the Hill's best vote counter and a guy who's known for "a tight smile and a knee to the groin," as Slate's David Plotz described him in a memorable 1998 profile.

For now, though, DeLay, winner of the 2002 Distinguished Christian Statesman Award, has decided not to spray for judges.

The press reports that DeLay "apologized" yesterday for some of the creepiest language heard in a while from such a powerful person. Mike Allen of the Washington Post writes:

    DeLay created a furor last month by saying that "the time will come" for federal judges who refused to restore the brain-damaged [Terri Schiavo's] feeding tube "to answer for their behavior," and by criticizing what he called an "arrogant, out-of-control, unaccountable judiciary." President Bush, Vice President Cheney and other top Republican leaders did not endorse those statements and said they support an independent federal judiciary.

Yeah, sure they do. But they're not foolish enough to say what DeLay said. The problem, though, is with the so-called apology. This is what DeLay is reported to have said yesterday:

    "I said something in an inartful way, and I shouldn't have said it that way, and I apologize for saying it that way. It was taken wrong. I didn't explain it or clarify my remarks, as I'm clarifying them here. I am sorry that I said it that way, and I shouldn't have."

It was "taken wrong"? In other words, DeLay apologized for the tone, the style—but not the content—of what he said. By repeating the phrase "that way," he was sending a message to his followers that he wasn't really apologizing.

Those words won't hurt him, but his past actions may. Read Cragg Hines's piece in yesterday's Houston Chronicle for the details of the latest scandal threatening DeLay's career.

For now, DeLay is still king of the Hill—as in King of the Hill. No, he's not the Fox series' character Hank Hill, who sells propane and propane accessories in a Texas town. DeLay is more like Hank's friend Dale Gribble, the licensed owner/operator of Dale's Dead Bug.

DeLay's official bios say he ran a "local business" before going to Congress, but they never say what kind of business. Well, he was an exterminator, and it looks as if he still is.

Maybe DeLay should try a softer approach than getting down on his knees and spraying. His wife chose another approach in spring 2003 for the Center for Christian Statesmanship, the D.C. organization founded by Fort Lauderdale evangelist D. James Kennedy that evangelizes inside government buildings. Hubby won the Kennedy Center's 2002 Distinguished Christian Statesman Award (see photo).

He's one of many Christian pols who have been so honored. John Ashcroft won it a few years ago; read my April 2001 Voice feature on Ashcroft's pre–9-11 plans, laid out to the Kennedy group, to scare the bejesus out of the rest of us. Fortunately for Ashcroft, 9/11 came along as an opportunity to take up the sword for the Lord.

Anyway, here's how the Christocratic Kennedy Center's May 2003 newsletter headlined the gentler approach of DeLay's wife:

    Mrs. Tom DeLay Presents Christ at Center Tea

    "I like to be in control . . . [but] I have to rely on something bigger than myself," said Christine DeLay, wife of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (TX), as she shared her testimony of faith with about 25 female staffers on Capitol Hill.

    Tea, finger sandwiches, cookies, and attentive young women—many non-believers—filled a cozy room in the Capitol Building where Mrs. DeLay explained why she has made Christ the center of her life.

If what the newsletter says is true, then maybe Congress is paralyzed these days because there's so much evangelizing going on. Here's more:

    Following Mrs. DeLay’s testimony, several women asked to become involved with the Center’s Bible studies and discipleship meetings.

    These intimate gatherings are constructed to encourage Christian women in fellowship and give them a platform for evangelism, as each believer is required to invite at least one non-believing friend.

    Similar congressional coffees are held for male staffers. Like most other Center-sponsored events, congressional teas allow staffers to see God at work in the demanding schedules of national leaders.

In this morning's secular press, the Post's Allen does a fine job of explaining the demanding schedules followed in the name of the Lord by national leaders like Mrs. DeLay's husband:

    The Texas Republican, already under intense scrutiny for his ties to campaign fundraising activities and overseas travel, has drawn criticism from Democrats and some Republicans for his harsh statements about the courts.

    "I believe in an independent judiciary," he told reporters.

    DeLay, meanwhile, said he will not answer any more questions about his travel and dealings with lobbyists, as House leaders gauge whether support for him among Republicans will hold.

Well, bless his little ol' heart. Luckily, there's plenty of other good news being spread around Capitol Hill. Another story in the Kennedy Center's May 2003 newsletter explains:

    Staff at the Center become excited seeing God at work in the lives of believers on Capitol Hill. It is a blessing to see Him use this ministry to help display His glory in events like the congressional tea with guest speaker Christine DeLay.

    Last month [April 2003] a similar event with Rep. Todd Akin (MO) took place within the esteemed Caucus Room at the Cannon House Office Building. There, Rep. Akin proclaimed the Gospel of Christ at a special Easter event for congressional staffers. Known for his uncompromising Christian testimony, Akin did not disappoint attendees as he boldly shared his faith in the resurrected Christ.

    As U.S. troops serve in the Persian Gulf, it is encouraging to hear our nation’s leaders declare trust in the true commander in chief—Jesus Christ.

From the perspective of a clean-cut Christian who is not a right-wing nut, Bush Beat reader David Domke analyzes this evangelizing in "Keeping the Faith", a terrific piece from last September's issue of Counterpunch. Here's an excerpt:

    An omnipresent consideration for Christian fundamentalists is the "Great Commission" biblical mandate, in the book of Matthew, of "go therefore and make disciples of all the nations."

    The felt responsibility to live out this command, both locally and globally, has become intertwined in the eyes of the Religious Right with support for the principles of political freedom and liberty.

    In particular, the individualized religious liberty present in the United States (particularly available historically for European-American Protestants, of course) is something that fundamentalists long to extend to other cultures and nations.

They also want to proclaim "Great Commission Accomplished!" in the halls of Congress. And for that, they have to count on people like Tom DeLay and his wife, Mrs. Tom DeLay. But the Christocrats had better hurry up before scandal makes Tom an extinguished Christian statesman.

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