Dick Armey was recently on The Charlie Rose Show talking about how he sees the current debate in Washington, and about FreedomWorks, “the longest-standing, most effective conservative small-government grassroots organization in the country.” FreedomWorks boasts over 800,000 members across the country. Armey has led FreedomWorks in supporting the nationwide TEA party protests and in lobbying politicians for smaller government and lower taxes.
As well as being chairman of FreedomWorks, Armey is a former House Majority Leader, the main author of Contract with America, author of several books, the former ranking Republican on the House Joint Economic Committee, former GOP Conference chairman, and former professor of economics at the University of North Texas. He spent 18 years in Congress and was a strong believer in the policies of Ronald Reagan. He describes himself in the Charlie Rose interview as a libertarian who recognizes government.
Armey had some excellent responses in his interview on The Charlie Rose Show. We would like to feature a few of them here for you.
Comments regarding the following:
Makeup of Washington
CHARLIE ROSE: Listen to this, what you say. “Nearly every important office in Washington D.C. today is occupied-nearly every important office in Washington is occupied by someone with an aggressive dislike for our heritage, our freedom, our history, and our Constitution.” You cannot believe this.
DICK ARMEY: I do believe this.
CHARLIE ROSE: Every?
DICK ARMEY: Almost.
CHARLIE ROSE: Listen, “Nearly every important office is occupied by someone with an aggressive dislike for our heritage, our freedom, our history, and our Constitution.”
DICK ARMEY: Absolutely, yes. I do. I do. I believe that. I wouldn’t have said it if I didn’t believe it to be true. It’s a harsh thing to say.
CHARLIE ROSE: It is a very harsh thing to say.
DICK ARMEY: If I did not believe it to be true.
CHARLIE ROSE: And it shows a level of intolerance for others.
DICK ARMEY: No.
CHARLIE ROSE: It’s basically saying-
DICK ARMEY: If you’re walking down the alley, and I know there’s a person in the alley that will be there to mug you, and I didn’t tell you that person doesn’t share your values and would mug you for what’s in your billfold, you would call me a mean person for not warning you.
CHARLIE ROSE: On the other hand, there are honest differences in terms of national purpose. You say “an aggressive dislike for our heritage.” Are you suggesting, for example, that Joe Biden has an aggressive dislike for our heritage? Do you think that President Obama has an aggressive dislike-
DICK ARMEY: Yes, I do.
CHARLIE ROSE: You can’t believe an aggressive dislike of our heritage-
DICK ARMEY: The most important document in the history of our nation, perhaps the history of the world, with respect to this thing called governance, is the American Constitution. President Obama says it’s a living document and it really means what I want it to mean.
CHARLIE ROSE: You’re at a speech in CPAC, you said, addressing President Obama directly, “You’re intellectually shallow. You’re a romantic. You’re self-indulgent. You have no ability. You’re the most incompetent president perhaps in our lifetime.” Did you mean all that?
DICK ARMEY: Those are observations of what I believe to be factual observations.
CHARLIE ROSE: “Intellectually shallow”?
DICK ARMEY: Yes.
CHARLIE ROSE: “Self-indulgent”? “No ability”?
DICK ARMEY: Now wait a minute. You have to understand, [if] the president of the United States is going to use all of the authority in his office to engage in billions and billions and hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of economic policy [he] should understand the fundamental rudiments of economics.
CHARLIE ROSE: What makes you think he doesn’t?
DICK ARMEY: It’s clear he doesn’t. He believes that the object of public policy should be redistributing income and managing the economy. I mean, there is no model in the history of the world that is such a totally proven failure as government management of the economy.
CHARLIE ROSE: What kind of health-care reform would you like to see?
DICK ARMEY: Let’s address the tort laws. How about the sale of insurance across state lines? John Shadegg from Arizona has the perfect bill by which it can be done. Why have we never given a person in America who buys insurance for themselves the same consideration in the tax law as is given to somebody who is buying insurance on behalf of somebody else through the employer-provided system?
The Perfect Presidential Candidate:
CHARLIE ROSE: Define for me a presidential candidate that Dick Armey could enthusiastically support.
DICK ARMEY: Well, of course the last one was Ronald Reagan.
One thing we like so much about Dick Armey is that he has unshakable principles. When asked about whether there was any wiggle room in his principles, he answered firmly. Here’s what was said.
CHARLIE ROSE: Can’t you allow some differences about big government in terms of how one person defines a purpose of government and [how you define it] without suggesting they have an aggressive dislike for our heritage, our Constitution, and our history?
DICK ARMEY: Absolutely not.
This assertion echoes another famous quote from Armey: “You can compromise on details, you can compromise on strategies, but you must never compromise on principles.”
In the coming presidential election of 2012, conservatives will have a chance to choose a candidate. While it is likely too much to hope that Armey would consider running, a conservative who embraced the principles held by Armey would be well on his or her way to winning the election.
We previously outlined our view of the current political landscape in America. Here is a summary of how our fictional parties might lay out, and who might head those parties.
Percent of Voters: 25.5%
Hypothetical Spokesman: Sarah Palin
Affiliates: Alliance Defense Fund, Evangelical Christians, Catholics (including a large Hispanic contingent), Baptists (including a large African-American contingent), and NRLC.
Percent of Voters: 25.0%
Hypothetical Spokesman: Dick Armey
Affiliates: NRA, CATO, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Institute for Justice, the Federalist Society, Club for Growth, Campaign for Liberty, the TEA parties, and Dick Young.
Percent of Voters: 7.0%
Hypothetical Spokesman: Bill Kristol
Affiliates: American Enterprise Institute, Project for a New American Century, and AIPAC.
Percent of Voters: 13.0%
Hypothetical Spokesman: Al Gore
Affiliates: Sierra Club, PETA, the Union of Concerned Scientists, the green energy lobby, SEIU, AFL-CIO, UAW, teamsters.
Percent of Voters: 24.5%
Hypothetical Spokesman: John Podesta
Affiliates: ACLU, MoveOn.org, the Center for American Progress, ACORN, NOW, NARAL, and the Radical Progressive Movement.
Percent of Voters: 2.5%
Percent of Voters: 2.5%
As you can see, we put Dick Armey at the head of our National Freedom party and included groups of people that explicitly fight for greater freedoms for Americans in that party.
The last election was lost by 8.5 million votes. A mere 4.25 million votes could have changed the outcome. That’s one night’s worth of Bill O’Reilly viewers, a quarter of the listenership of Rush Limbaugh, and one-seventh of the monthly audience of Glenn Beck. John McCain was not a conservative choice. A conservative who can impress and earn the endorsement of these media gurus will have a very good chance at beating Barack Obama in the 2012 election.
There are skilled, conservative leaders out there like Mitch Daniels and Rob Portman. No one is ever going to be perfect; as Dick Armey said, Ronald Reagan was the last one who came close. Even Armey and Reagan butted heads over things like base closures. But a principled conservative who gets on board with the foundation principles put forth on these pages will have success. That person will be supported by Armey’s Army, FreedomWorks, and other conservatives who are tired of big-spending Republicans and Democrats who lead the country to war and spend it to death.