Armey’s Continuing Assault

It took James Dobson of Focus on the Family weeks to finally fight back against former Congressman Dick Armey’s attacks on him – but it only took Armey one day to respond.  

For some time now, Armey has been leveling allegations that “Dobson and his gang of thugs are real nasty bullies” who rely on “demagoguery” to manipulate the “intellectually lazy” and accusations that Dobson is a power-hungry egomaniac, to which Dobson finally replied by calling Armey a sell out for working with the ACLU and dismissing him has a non-entity who is merely seeking to make a name for himself.

This time around, Armey wasted no time in attacking Dobson, belittling him for insinuating last year that the cartoon character SpongeBob SquarePants was gay

Having read Jim Dobson’s latest lecture, I feel a little bit like SpongeBob SquarePants: maligned and misunderstood. But it would be unfair, I think, to suggest that SpongeBob has become bitter over his experience with Jim Dobson; he seems to have moved on.

Frankly, though, I don’t understand why Jim Dobson always feels the need to justify himself in such great detail. If he believes that Dick Armey is the only person who thinks he is a bully, it should be of little concern to him. On some issues, regarding interactions between us, his recollections are clearly different than mine. It seems, therefore, that Jim Dobson is no more willing to believe himself a bully than I am able to believe he is a gentle soul.

Armey then recounts several instances where Dobson has threatened the Republican Party with electoral repercussions if it did not deliver on the so-called “values voters” agenda before laying into him for trying to use the GOP to push his right-wing agenda

In his comments posted yesterday, Dobson discussed at length his personal commitment to freedom and limited government. Therefore, we should take him at face value that he is a man dedicated to liberty and small government.

That being the case, I’m sure he agrees that the action by Congress in the Terri Schiavo situation was a trespass against the separation of powers and an affront to conservatives’ historic resistance to judicial activism and interventionism. Clearly we cannot find judicial activism acceptable in cases when it is ordered by a legislative body. If we do find that acceptable, we might consider the damage that future liberal legislative bodies can wreak. What is good for the goose is good for the gander.

If Dobson is a champion of freedom, he understands then the risks of using the power of government to define social norms. We might not like what others have to say on these issues when they are in power. If Dobson is a defender of the Constitution, he will pause before calling for amending it on every social issue of the day.

And then Armey gets to the heart of the dispute:  the battle over which part of the Republican base – the anti-government tax-breaks-for-the-rich crowd or the anti-abortion gay-bashers – should have the greatest influence over the party

All officeholders must come to terms with the fact that they are expected to deal with substantive legislative outcomes, not just political posturing and pandering. The electorate holds them accountable.

Indeed, pandering and posturing on gay marriage is an insult to most voters. I’m the first person to argue that marriage is between a man and a woman. But here, Jim Dobson himself is prone to hyperbole, having claimed in one campaign speech that homosexuals and gay marriage “will destroy the earth.” We should leave such rhetoric to Al Gore, where it is better suited.

Jim Dobson would have us believe that we, as conservatives and Republicans, face a stark political choice: His way, defeat or nothing. However, a Republican Party that believes its first value is righteousness over freedom is a party that will lose elections.

In writing this reply, Armey seems to lament the battle that is taking place – though, of course, he has done nothing to end it and everything to prolong it – saying that if the “debate becomes merely a Jim Dobson versus Dick Armey circus, it doesn’t help the American public in any way.” 

And that is probably true …. but it will certainly entertain them.