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June 09, 2006

DeLay's history lesson

Don Herzog: June 9, 2006

The press is chortling over Tom DeLay's farewell to the House of Representatives.  DeLay congratulated himself for standing up for freedom and dignity; he regretted only not fighting harder.  But what caught my eye was this comment, courtesy of the Congressional Quarterly:

Liberalism, after all, whatever you may think of its merits, is a political philosophy and a proud one with a great tradition in this country, with a voracious appetite for growth.

In any place or any time on any issue, what does liberalism ever seek, Mr. Speaker?  More — more government, more taxation, more control over people's lives and decisions and wallets.

You'd never dream that liberals fought to stop the state from meddling with religion.  You'd never dream that they campaigned against such intrusions as the hearth tax, which required the tax collector to burst into your house to count up the fireplaces.  You'd never dream that liberals championed the right of consenting adults to do what they want in their bedrooms.

DeLay might be in the clutches of a wildly polemical misreading of LBJ's Great Society.  Or he might be throwing a smokescreen over the social agenda of some of today's conservatives, aghast at the thought that the state has nothing to do with religion or consensual sex.  Let's just hope he doesn't decide to teach history or political theory for his next job.

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