"Texas Tea" Party: Dick Armey Distorts History

Former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, who represented Fort Worth in Congress and now leads the right-wing Freedomworks, told some Texas-sized whoppers to the Tea Party crowd at the National Press Club this week. Among other things, he claimed that Tea Partiers and "small government conservatives" are devoted to "the principles of liberty as embodied in the Constitution, the understanding of which is fleshed out if you read things like the Federalist Papers," and that the problem with Democrats and other people "who do not cherish America the way we do" is "they did not read the Federalist Papers." Leaving aside the ridiculous assertion that no Dems have read the articles that were written by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay to win the ratification of the Constitution, Armey's own comments sure make it sound like he hasn't read them himself.

An audience member, who apparently had read them, asked Armey how the Federalist Papers could be such be an inspiration for the Tea Party when their main author, Hamilton, "was widely regarded then and now as an advocate of a strong central government"? Armey then had the audacity to ask, in a true right-wing conspiracy-style, history-denying, fact-rewriting, spin-pivot-attack fashion: "'Widely regarded by whom?' he challenged, suspiciously. 'Today's modern, ill-informed political science professors? . . . I just doubt that was the case in fact about Hamilton.'"

It is no liberal college professor conspiracy; it is a fact. Hamilton strongly favored a strong federal government with almost king-like powers for the president -- that's why Hamilton has often been cited by Bush lawyer, John Yoo, as his inspiration for virtually unlimited powers for the national executive. Hamilton actually wrote most of the articles in the Federalist Papers, which were a dialogue about why the weak central government created by the Articles of Confederation, that had been the founding documents of the United States as a union of states, needed to be replaced by the strong national government of the Constitution. And Hamilton was deeply distrustful of direct democracy, and had even pushed for a monarchical presidency in which the president would serve for life in office and he argued for a strong centralized bank. To suggest that he was a small-government advocate who would have been hanging out with the Tea Party is to completely misread history, if Armey has read constitutional history or the Federal Papers in any depth.

Meanwhile, in other news, Armey is criticizing the Democrat's new bill, proposed by Senator Christopher Dodd, to add new oversight of Wall Street. His response was that “The market is so complex that I doubt very much that there’s anybody in office that’s smart enough to say, I know how to design the appropriate regulatory structure.” Given Armey's demonstrated ignorance, however, it would be unwise to put much stock in his assessment of who might be smart enough to address the financial crisis enabled by the very de-regulation policies that he advanced when he led Congress.

But why let the facts get in the way of Dick Armey now? They've never stopped him before, and look how far he's gone. Why, if he were on the Texas Board of Education he might want to make sure textbooks included his claim that Hamilton was a small-government advocate who would have loved Freedomworks and the Tea Party. He probably would want to include the "idea" that the financial crisis, which began before the presidential election, on President Bush's watch and as a result of massive deregulation urged by Armey and others, is all President Obama's fault.

That's the thing about a lie, if you repeat it often enough it becomes "the truth," and then it becomes "history."

Lisa Graves

Lisa Graves is President of the Board of the Center for Media and Democracy and Director of Illumination Investigations. She is a well-known researcher, writer, and public speaker. Her research and analysis have been cited by every major paper in the country and featured in critically acclaimed books and documentaries, including Ava Du Vernay’s award-winning film, “The 13th,” Bill Moyers’s “United States of ALEC,” and Showtime’s “Years of Living Dangerously.”

 

Comments

Most folks I know understand what the tea party was about. And those using that name today have not a clue or they would change it. But some on the right are so ready to fight they could care less with who. See the right votes with their checkbook many of us on the left try to rely on our conscience but looks like we got that wrong last time. But maybe some day we might have a better selection to choose from. Yes Old tricky Dick Armey is just one hell of a trickster. Those in the Tea party movement have not got a clue how much money that CON ARTIST IS making and that is before he gets his bigger than life checks from David Rockefeller. The KING OF THE NEW WORLD ORDER David Rockefeller has many con artist like Armey laying low to do his bidding. Now if you think I am wrong just watch some of the worst of all worst people on the planet and get on our AIR WAVES and spout their crap. And who pays for all of that YEP Ole crooked as a dog’s hind leg David Rockefeller. Got to keep dumbing us down best as he can.

Dwight -dude- you're good! Get a publisher! I especially like the 'crooked as a dog's hind leg', yuk, yuk. Yes, compared to most of the other founding fathers, Hamilton was for a strong central government. However, words have their meanings changed over time, especially when politicians try to implement their ideals. Which of course is the natural tendancy and actually their 'job'. (not to change the meanings of words, but to try to enact their ideals). For example: In the 18th century, the word 'regulate' meant 'to make regular'. In terms of the 10th Amendment - where the Federal Government is to 'regulate' interstate commerce, that meant at the time, TO MAKE REGULAR. The colonies (now new States) were very independent, and the concern was that trade barriers and duties (although not legal) were going to be prevelant in the 'States'. Since good ole 'crooked as a dog's hind leg' FDR threatened the Supreme Court in 1937, the word 'regulate' now means something altogether different. In other words, Hamilton may have been the loudest spokesperson for a strong central government, but anyone with common sense can reason that the version of a strong central government in 1787, is much different than today's version. Therefore, with the change in the definition of a 'strong central government' Hamiltons opinions are useless as a basis. In just 40 years -- listening to, or reading John Kennedy's opinions and speeches (without knowing his political party) you would be calling him a right -wing zealot! A disciple of Tricky Dick Armey. Lets compromise shall we? I'll accept Hamilton's version of a strong central government (i.e. the US Federal Government from 1787 to 1804, the year the Constitution was ratifed by the States, through the year of Hamiltons death. In other words, the only version of a US Federal Government that Hamilton knew of and experienced. IF you'll agree that the Democrats should be defined under John F. Kennedy'sdefition. That means all of his opinions on things like, welfare, taxes, abortion, same sex marraige etc etc. The truth of the matter -- you will not accept this compromise - therefore,since you cannot accept Kennedy's definitions that are just 40 years old!! I must disagree with your attempts to claim that you fully understand Hamiltons definitions that are over 200 years old! (go to the icebox - fill a zippy bag up with ice, place on forehead, DO NOT watch Foxnews, maby Bill Maher)

Brent Morehouse: Good post. I like your ideas and thoughts. Email me your email address...I would like to ask additional questions. thx jmc1007@mac.com Mike

It amazing how much the tea party movement has grown from the time this article was written to now. I would have never thought that a party other than the Democratic and Republican Party could have so much influence. Though there are some things I disagree on with the Tea Party movement, you have to admire that people can rally together and fight for what they believe is right. The passing of <a href="http://www.failuretowarn.com/">laws</a> will be under more scrutiny than ever.