Armey, who left Congress in 2003, hasn’t let the lack of elected official status keep him from influencing government. He, and the group FreedomWorks which he chairs, were key players in pulling together what was popularly known as the 9/12 protests that took place this past September in D.C. The Times it should be noted does not bother to refer to them as such, opting only to describe them as “a big march on Washington.” More on the power of a name shortly.
Armey has also “been traveling the country in support of favored political candidates, not all of them running on the Republican line.” Including the now infamous NY-23, and we all saw how that worked out (though some would argue NY-23 was just a sign of what’s to come for a leaderless G.O.P). Alas this article went to press before those results came in so no word on where Armey felt his involvement may have gone amiss. In short, Army appears to be what Sarah Palin hoped to be when she resigned as Governor of Alaska: an unelected official serving the so-called civic needs of her country.
Speaking of Sarah Palin and the power of words. Armey apparently feels that imaginary death panels are equally as useful as the real ones, which Palin so famously claimed were part of President Obama’s health care bill.
Armey prides himself on his intellect and rationality, but his years in Washington have taught him the political uses of irrationality and even outright fantasy. He told me he does not believe some of the most extreme charges that emerged in the debate over health care reform — for example, that “death panels” will tell elderly people when it’s time to die — but he welcomes the energy and passion that such beliefs bring to his side. “You know that expression: The enemy of my enemy is my friend?” he asked. “Are their fears exaggerated? Yeah, probably. But are Obama’s promises exaggerated? I may think it’s silly, but if people want to believe that,” he said, referring to death panels, “it’s O.K. with me.”
Which makes for a great soundbite, yes. But distilled down also hints strongly at what the political landscape in the next few years is likely to look like: the continuing evolution of “political uses of irrationality and even outright fantasy’ in an effort to gain political power.
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