Just as he made his mug shot a happy head shot, today Tom DeLay used the occasion of his imminent resignation from the House of Representatives, on the heels of a plea deal for a former aide who has pleaded guilty to being party to running a criminal enterprise out of the majority leader's office, to take something of a surreal victory lap around the political talk shows.
Particularly strange was DeLay's turn on Hardball with Chris Matthews. After making a big fuss over DeLay's profession of faith -- even quoting a right-wing minister friend of the Hammer's who compared DeLay to the crucified Christ -- Matthews asked DeLay if he believed Republicans are morally superior to Democrats, DeLay said no. When asked to name a moral Democrat, DeLay replied, "Barney Frank," the openly gay congressman from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Even despite Frank's "lifestyle?" asked Matthews. "I don't agree with homosexuality," DeLay said, "but I am commanded to love Barney Frank." (Of course this was after he laid his current woes at the feet of the Democrats, who he said had "publicly declared" that they were going to "destroy me and my character.")
Oddly enough, DeLay's remarks about Barney Frank do not appear in the transcript that MSNBC posted tonight on the Hardball site. However, as the tech-savvy doyenne of the blogosphere, your cybertrix ran a $20 tape recorder next to the speaker on her non-plasma TV and was hence enabled to bring you the banter of the blow-hard and the bug man via a somewhat quaint device known as a Dictaphone. (Special prize for anyone born after 1968 who can define just what that machine does.)
Now, back to our crucified, homosexual-loving subject: Mr. DeLay no doubt sees today as the first day of his own rehabilitation.
From tonight's edition of Hardball:
MATTHEWS: Let me read you something. I have no idea what you’re going to say to this. These are the best questions, I have no idea what you’re going to say to Rick Scarborough. Do you know him? He’s an evangelical minister.
DELAY: He was a minister of the First Baptist Church. A very dear friend of mine. And he and I worked together to create Vision America.
MATTHEWS: He said, “I believe the most damaging thing that Tom DeLay has done in his life is to take his faith seriously into public office, which made him a target for all those who despise the cause of Christ. God always does his best work right after a crucifixion.”
I mean, he says that you were brought down by your faith.
DELAY: No. I think I’ve been strengthened by my faith. I think that probably was taken out of context. I know Rick. I was with him Saturday, and talked to him about this decision. He’s a wonderful man, a great friend. And he understands what I’ve been through. And my faith has been strengthened. I have matured as a Christian over these attacks. When you go through these kinds of things your faith is stronger than ever and you rely on the Lord more than ever.
[... MOST OF WHAT APPEARS BELOW IS NOT IN THE OFFICIAL TRANSCRIPT, AT LEAST NOT AS IT WAS POSTED TONIGHT. TRANSCRIBED BY YOUR BLOGSTRESS FROM TAPE.]
MATTHEWS: You’re a Christian. Do you believe that in the general judgment, when people are all called before God, that Democrats will be found one thing and Republicans will not? Because the way you talk sounds like there’s a moral difference between Republicans and Democrats in your profession of politics. You discuss them as if they’re morally inferior to you.
DELAY: That’s not for me to judge.
MATTHEWS: OK. Do you think that Republicans you’ve met in your career are more moral than Democrats?
DELAY: No, I don’t. There are some strong moral Democrats.
MATTHEWS: Name one.
DELAY: Barney Frank. Barney Frank. I respect him greatly. He's a true liberal, and he's unashamedly a liberal, and I respect that. It's the people who try to hide who they are that I don't respect--people that are drunk with power--
MATTHEWS: --so you can look at a guy with a lifestyle like Barney Frank, and still accept him as a good person.
DELAY: Absolutely. I don't agree with homosexuality but I still--I am commanded to love Barney Frank. I'm not gonna judge him.
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