Vengeful DeLay to target 'rising phoenix' Gingrich in book: Novak
Conservative columnist and CIA leak figure Robert Novak says that disgraced ex-Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX) will, in an upcoming memoir, visit his wrath upon former colleague Newt Gingrich.
"Gingrich's attempted phoenix-like rise from his own political ashes to a presidential candidacy will run next week into a harsh assessment" by DeLay, writes Novak in The Washington Post.
"The former majority leader's forthcoming memoir," Novak continues, "assails Gingrich as an 'ineffective' House speaker with a flawed moral compass."
The twice-divorced Gingrich admitted last week that even while leading the charge to have former President Bill Clinton impeached over the Lewinsky scandal, he himself was carrying on an extramarital affair.
DeLay's memoir stresses that "our leadership was in no moral shape to press" for Clinton's impeachment, Novak reveals.
"It is now public knowledge that Newt Gingrich was having an affair with a staffer during the entire impeachment crisis," Novak quotes DeLay, noting that the Texas Republican wrote well before Gingrich's first-time admission to infidelity.
"Clearly, men with such secrets are not likely to sound a high moral tone at a moment of national crisis," DeLay writes.
Gingrich, says Novak, "is not the only erstwhile political ally to feel DeLay's wrath." In the forthcoming memoir, DeLay is "even more critical" of former Rep. Dick Armey (R-TX), whom he succeeded as majority leader, and says President Bush is "more compassionate than conservative."
DeLay also rips former Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL), along with Gingrich and Armey, for "opening the door to the Democratic purge" that resulted in his ouster, Novak writes.
"DeLay is an angry man," continues Novak, "after being driven from the leadership, from Congress and, so far, from public life by 'a concerted effort to destroy me legally, financially and personally' through a 2005 indictment in Texas."
DeLay shared some of the blame for the inability of the 1994 Republican takeover of the House to "change the nation." He admits, Novak says, "that the Republican leaders empowered by the 1994 elections -- comprising himself as majority whip, Gingrich as speaker and Armey as majority leader -- 'were not a cohesive team,'" but saves most of the blame for Gingrich.
Novak concludes by opining that "DeLay was the most conservative congressional leader I have witnessed in 50 years covering Capitol Hill."
Excerpts from Novak's column in the Post, available in full here, follow...
DeLay refers to Armey as "so blinded by ambition as to be useless to the cause" and a "poor leader" who had "few fresh ideas." He adds that Armey "resented anyone he thought might get in the way of his becoming speaker of the House. Beware the man drunk with ambition." He pleads innocence in his version of the failed 1997 coup attempt against Gingrich and accuses Armey, after realizing that he would not succeed Gingrich, of telling the speaker that DeLay was plotting against him: "He had lied to cover his ambitions, betraying both his movement and his fellow leaders."
DeLay, who was forced to step down as part of a politically motivated prosecution, is angry that Republicans, pressured by Democrats and the news media, retreated from a party rule that an indicted House Republican need not resign from the leadership. Gingrich and Armey (both out of Congress) opposed the rule. More significantly, to DeLay's dismay, so did Hastert, his former lieutenant.
The memoir ends DeLay's reticence in criticizing President Bush. Deriding Bush's self-identification as "a compassionate conservative," DeLay asserts that "he has expanded government to suit his purpose, especially in the area of education. He may be compassionate, but he is certainly no conservative in the classic sense." He also charges that Bush has failed to stress the role of U.S. troops fighting in Iraq, adding, "typically . . . no one at the White House was listening" to his advice.
DeLay has been a subject of controversy on the right before. When American Conservative Union Chairman David Keene attempted to make DeLay the organization's Washington operative, four members of his board resigned. Rep. Jeff Flake of Arizona, a leading conservative reformer, describes DeLay's leadership as concentrating on redistricting, fundraising and distribution of pork.