It’s quite an honor for one person to be the liberals’ boogeyman for two conservative revolutions. Former House Majority Leader Dick Armey has that unique distinction.
Armey was first elected by TX–26 to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1984. Following his close involvement with the 1994 Contract with America, his colleagues appointed him to the House Majority Leader post in 1995. He retired from Congress in 2002, but continued to be a thorn in the Democrats’ side.
In 2003, Armey became co-chairman of Citizens for a Sound Economy, which later became FreedomWorks. FreedomWorks has been instrumental in providing resources to grassroots activists and to Tea Partiers. At the FreedomWorks’ Election Night victory party, Armey told the audience “We’ve seen this coming for a long time. It’s hard work by a lot of people all over the country and a lot of commitment to the cause of good government and fiscal responsibility.”
When asked what advice he would give new members, Armey told NPR, “I think the biggest mistake you can make is always thinking ‘It’s about me. I’m the big shot now. It’s all about me.’ Armey’s Axiom is, if it’s about you, you lose. If it’s about power, you lose.”
1. If there were a television channel that showed only one movie over and over, what movie should it be?
ARMEY: Definitely The Fountainhead. And we should turn the volume up extra loud during Howard Roark’s speech when he says, “Our country, the noblest country in the history of men, was based on the principle of individualism. The principle of man’s inalienable rights. It was a country where a man was free to seek his own happiness, to gain and produce, not to give up and renounce. To prosper, not to starve. To achieve, not to plunder. To hold as his highest possession a sense of his personal value. And as his highest virtue, his self-respect.”
2. What’s one of your favorite movie quotes?
ARMEY: My favorite movie quote comes from one of America’s great philosophers, Dirty Harry:
“A man’s gotta know his limitations.”
The problem with our government today is that it doesn’t understand or respect its limitations. Taxpayers are fed up with representatives that don’t acknowledge their needs and well-being, which is why we are going to see some major personnel changes in Washington this November.
3. What pop culture souvenir do you own that people would be surprised to learn that you cherish?
ARMEY: My wife gave me a Dallas Stars jersey signed by the entire team for my birthday. I love my Stars (and my wife!).
4. What’s your current “guilty pleasure” non-news television show?
ARMEY: It’d have to be a toss-up between “Pawn Stars” and “American Pickers” on the History Channel. But Chumlee tips the balance.
5. What is a Snooki?
ARMEY: Oh boy, that sounds like some kind of bad news varmint I gotta keep off my ranch.
6. What was the first concert you ever attended, and where did you sit, and who went with you?
ARMEY: I went to a Jimmy Buffet concert and sat up front with my wife, Susan.
7. Tell me about a public or private moment when you thought to yourself, “This is what Elvis felt like every day.”
ARMEY: When I was the first in my family to graduate college, I remember thinking to myself, “Now this is what accomplishment feels like.”
8. If Republicans and Democrats had theme songs for 2010 what would they be?
ARMEY: Oh, this is a fun question . . . the Republican theme song would have to be “Give Me One More Chance Before You Say Goodbye,” and the Democrat song would be “Been a Long Time Going and Gonna Be a Long Time Gone.”
9. What’s the coolest thing you’ve been able to do because of your role in the political arena?
ARMEY: I got to meet Ronald Reagan, which was really something.
10. What question do you wish reporters would ask you?
ARMEY: The question: Would you like to edit this story before it goes to print?
11. What’s your answer to that question?
ARMEY: My answer: Better me than your editor!
12. Tell me about the moment you decided to enter the political arena.
ARMEY: I was a college professor, and had always been interested in public policy and Congress. But I had always thought that being a member of Congress was out of my reach. So when my cable company got C-SPAN, I was hooked on watching it. And what happened was, C-SPAN demystified the whole political process, and I realized that these guys were not bigger than life, and this was not something beyond my reach.
I always joke that I turned to my wife Susan, and said, “Well honey, they’re a bunch of dang fools.”
And she said to me, “Well, you could do that!”