Dick Armey, civil rights hero

Corporate America's buddy is only trying to advance the freedom movements of the 60s. Honest!

Published September 18, 2009 10:19PM (EDT)

You've really got to admire Dick Armey. Earlier this week, he told a Los Angeles Times reporter that he was "out of line" insulting me on "Hardball" earlier this year. "When I told that woman I didn't want to listen to her prattle, that was way out of line," Armey said, crediting his "deepened faith" for his epiphany. "I understand why I was frustrated. But that was wrong." Still waiting for the phone call or email of apology – he even follows me on Twitter -- but I'm glad to know Armey is becoming a better person.

Friday represented another stage in Armey's public redefinition and rehabilitation: From corporate shill to civil rights hero! The flack for Armey's FreedomWorks, the big-business-funded right-wing Astroturf group that helped organize the 9/12 protest and tea party movement, boasted that Armey is merely learning from the great struggles of the 1960s, especially the civil rights movement, as he bravely fights to deny health insurance to people who can't afford it. "If we had been alive back in the 1960s, we would have been on the freedom bus rides," FreedomWorks spokesman Adam Brandon told Politico. "It was an issue of individual liberty. We’re trying to borrow some from the civil rights movement.”

Of course, in the next paragraph, Brandon is forced to admit that his boss never went on any "freedom bus rides" or marched in any civil rights demonstration. Armey "was not politically active at the time," the poor dumb flack admits.

Let's be clear: Dick Armey has not been politically active on behalf of civil rights for anybody but rich white men at any time in his life. Here's some of what Bill Moyers plans to say about Armey on his show tonight, spotlighting FreedomWorks and Armey's work to defeat health care reform: "Dick Armey is the epitome of those people with power and privilege who are insured against the vicissitudes of life and want no government assistance for any suffering except their own," Moyers says. Moyers is right, as always. Armey is about as likely to advance civil rights as I am to marry Dick Armey, meaning: Not at all.


By Joan Walsh

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