November 19, 2002
Dick Armey: Card-carrying ACLU member

Now that he's done his best to give a helping hand to pharmaceutical companies in the name of Homeland Security, what's next for Dick Armey? Why, consulting for the ACLU, of course.

It's not as big a leap as it may appear. In the past, Armey has worked with the ACLU to protest what he considered government invasions of privacy. He also opposed Attorney General John Ashcroft's Operation TIPS -- Terrorism Information and Prevention System -- that would have encouraged Americans to look out for suspicious activity and report anything unusual.

"He is as passionate about privacy as we are," said Laura W. Murphy, ACLU Washington office director.

I suppose that's true, though after his little rope-a-dope over invading Iraq, I have even less reason to trust in his goodwill. There is one thing about this that may work out to be an unequivocal good, though, and that's if his presence helps blunt conservative attacks on the ACLU. I really do believe that a big fight over civil rights is on the horizon. I want to see the Democrats lead this fight and get the credit for the win, but the end result matters more than who can crow about it afterwards. If Dick Armey can be a force for good, then I'll link arms with him and be happy about it.

That doesn't mean I'll be able to suppress my gag reflex when I read passages like these, though:

Armey entered Congress as a foe of Big Government, the minimum wage and the Internal Revenue Service. But his last big legislative achievement was helping pass a measure to create the vast Homeland Security Department, the anti-terrorism agency that will merge dozens of agencies and some 170,000 employees. Armey has said the department consolidates several agencies so it keeps with his philosophy of shrinking government.

"Armey culturally, definitely represented the sagebrush rebellion with cowboy boots, a deep tan, his deep smoker's laugh," said Kenneth R. Weinstein, director of the Washington office of the Hudson Institute, a conservative think tank. "He's very much someone who embodied in some ways the leave-it-alone coalition -- guns, cutting budgets, making government smaller."

Weinstein must have missed the memo about victors and spoils. Too bad it clashes with the rugged Marlboro Man individualist riding into the sunset with his guns image.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on November 19, 2002 to National news | TrackBack

Strange bedfellows indeed!

Posted by: Anna on November 19, 2002 8:14 PM

Armey and the ACLU?

I have a teacher who spent a year sharing in a cave in Sri Lanka with a cobra and a family of rats. She made her peace with both, even though the cobra ate the rats.

The ACLU has always had its share of strange bedfellows and single-cause activists on its front lines. With some anti-venom at the ready, the ACLU can co-exist with Armey on his fight for privacy rights, but we must never forget that he is still a cobra.

Posted by: Warren on November 23, 2002 10:10 AM