A Few Words About Tom DeLay
I am a lifelong progressive Democrat who has been a political activist since age 13 when I campaigned for Bobby Kennedy. If you are reading this blog, then you can spot the lefty leaning right away. I have a few words to say about conservative Republican former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay — but it’s not what you might expect …
Leader DeLay — I will call him “Tom” — was convicted of money laundering back in 2010. That was just one episode in a long legal journey that actually began years before that in 2005 and just ended this past Thursday when Tom was finally acquitted of all charges by an appeals court in Texas. I am writing this blog post to say “CONGRATULATIONS, TOM!”.
Why am I bucking the trend of other lefty bloggers this weekend who are damning Tom and wishing he had been hauled off to jail instead of acquitted of all charges? Because I have had the pleasure of knowing Tom since his now famous appearance on “Dancing With the Stars” (DWTS) in 2009. I enjoyed Tom on that show so much, and I wasn’t expecting to because as a lefty political junkie, I just didn’t think I could ever like anything about our right-wing nemesis Tom DeLay. But I was won over by his joy of dancing and his sense of humor. Oddly, I ended up becoming acquainted with Tom because I was a fan of DWTS — and it had nothing to do with politics. What happened was …
Back in early 2010 after Tom had appeared on DWTS, I heard that he had embarked on a new project of dancing for charity. He would agree to dance for the charity, they would sell tickets to his performances and donate the money he made for them to the charity. This was becoming quite popular and he was getting a lot of bookings. I am in New York City which also happens to be the hometown of DWTS pro dancer Maksim Chmerkovskiy. At the time, Maks had a small charity for local kids who wanted to take dance lessons but couldn’t afford it. I wondered if Tom might be interested in appearing to help raise money for Maks’s charity. To make a long story short, I contacted the charity, they said “Yes” they would love to have Tom appear, Tom said “Yes” he would love to dance for them, I arranged the project in conjunction with the charity and Tom’s public relations rep, everything was set up, AND THEN —
At the last minute, Tom couldn’t make it to the charity event in New York because the court set a pre-trial date that conflicted with the charity date. I had been in correspondence with Tom directly here and there throughout this project which took me about six months to set up. I had made all of the hotel and travel arrangements myself. Eventually, Tom called me to tell me that he couldn’t make it. I have to say I will always remember that phone call. It was all about DWTS and dancing — very little politics. Most of all, I remember Tom laughing through the whole phone call as we talked and joked about how surreal and hilarious it was that he appeared on that show and danced the cha-cha to “Wild Thing”! As that phone call ended, Tom told me to “keep in touch” — and I have kept in touch with him to this day three years later.
So, I could say a few words about Tom DeLay — I could say a whole lot, actually. And it wouldn’t be negative at all, so I will leave that to all the people this weekend who are chewing over the merits (or lack thereof) of the case against him that was just thrown out. I know very little about the law, and even less about campaign finance, so I’ll leave that to everyone else. For my part, I just want to say that I am thankful to know Tom and his family. They are good people with good hearts. I wish we could all take a step back and dance together for charity, or tell jokes to each other on the phone like I did with Tom. He is a free man now, and that is a good thing, according to me. I hope he will dance for charity again soon. He told me he really did love doing that. Tom dancing and raising money for charity would be a good thing for all of us!