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Dick Armey is not the tea party

Guess who was the real big winner in the 2010 midterm election?

The word on the street in Washington is that it was Dick Armey, the former House majority leader.

I’ll bet you didn’t even know he was on the ballot.

Guess what? You were right.

But he’s being hailed as “the godfather of the tea-party movement.” And he is being positioned by insiders – as well as his own PR machine and a media determined to constrain the impact of the grass-roots activists actually responsible for the historic congressional shift – to serve as an adviser to the Republican freshmen in the House and a mediator between them and the new House leadership.


This is what I have been warning about for a year – and especially since the publication on Independence Day of my book “The Tea Party Manifesto.”

Dick Armey is trying to reinvent himself as the leader of the tea-party movement, the voice of the tea-party movement, the prime mover of the tea-party movement, the old sage of the tea-party movement, the idea-man behind the tea-party movement.

The gravest threat the tea-party movement faces is being co-opted by old-line establishment politicians without a real vision for the future – people like Dick Armey.

“I’ll be working with almost every one of these new members,” Armey told the Atlantic, a magazine not heretofore regarded as a friend of the tea-party movement.

Maybe you ask, “What’s wrong with Dick Armey?”

Dick Armey has done everything in his power to limit the agenda of the tea-party movement to exclusively “economic issues,” defined in the narrowest sense of the term. For instance, Dick Armey has worked overtime to restrict tea-party activists from making illegal immigration one of their grievances. Why? It’s not on his list of narrowly defined “economic issues.” Neither, by the way, is the imminent threat of judicially imposed same-sex marriage.

What’s wrong with a strictly economic agenda? America’s problems transcend economics. You can’t solve problems you don’t expose and address.

Worse yet, Dick Armey was part of the GOP leadership that betrayed the Republican freshmen elected to the House in 1994. Now he is setting himself up to do it again.

Armey is rewriting the history of that period to portray himself as one of the young turks, when, in fact, he was on the opposite side.

”We went through this in ’92 and ’94,” he recalls. “We had to beat the old fogeys in the party before we could beat the Democrats … as we started with the first 100 days there was a lot of grumbling with the old bulls in the party.”

What? Dick Armey was one of the old fogeys then, and he’s an older fogey now.

Where’s his track record of success?

If you want to get an idea of what he hopes to accomplish beginning next year, he cites the compromises the Republicans of the mid-1990s made with Bill Clinton. Of course, that was their downfall. Bill Clinton outmaneuvered them every step of the way.

Recall it was his partner, Newt Gingrich, who resigned in disgrace as speaker of the House, and Bill Clinton who beat back impeachment.

“President Clinton was adaptable, and we ended up working with him on a number of things,” Armey says. “I don’t think President Obama is either intellectually or emotionally capable of being that flexible.”

Now Armey is advising the Tea Party Caucus to relax and play nice with the good old boys in Washington.

I disagree.

This is not the time to relax and rest on our laurels. This is a time of vigilance and determination.

America’s very survival as a free republic is at stake.

We cannot afford to get fooled again.