Friday, February 24, 2006

Tom Delay vs. Stonewall Jackson

I'm a bit of a civil war buff, so when I heard that Texas Republicans compared Tom Delay with Thomas 'Stonewall' Jackson, I admit that I was a bit bemused.

To start with a bit of an aside, my all time favorite quote comes from general Jackson. He was severely wounded by friendly fire at Chancellorsville. Jackson contracted pneumonia while recuperating and as he lay on his deathbed his mind took him to old battles. In his delirium he would call out orders to his men in the course of battle. Eventually he grew quiet, and then said "let us cross over the river and rest under the shade of the trees", and died.

Now I understand full well the reputation of southern leadership during the civil war, and for the most part this outlook by the modern day liberal is well deserved. But I must assert that Stonewall was no Nathan Bedford Forrest (perpetrator of the Fort Pillow massacre and founder of the KKK) in his outlook and treatment of African Americans. Stonewall fought on the wrong side of his war, but he was not an ogre. Tom Delay on the other hand IS an ogre.

Let us consider some of the glaring differences between Delay and Stonewall: Consider military service. Tom Delay avoided service via student deferments and offered the following knee slapper when asked about his military service:
He and Quayle DeLay explained to the assembled media in New Orleans, were victims of an unusual phenomenon back in the days of the undeclared Southeast Asian war. So many minority youths had volunteered for the well-paying military positions to escape poverty and the ghetto that there was literally no room for patriotic folks like himself.
Stonewall Jackson's military career has led to his mythic status in the halls of American military commanders. Tom Delays military service consists of riling up rednecks to vote for him...


Lifestyle: Stonewall Jackson lived a spartan existence. He believed that the enjoyable things in life lead to temptation and should be shunned. He would bring his own food, usually consisting of bread crusts, to social gatherings out of an eccentric fear of contamination. Jackson did not drink because he enjoyed it too much. Contrasted with Delay the difference in lifestyle could not be more extreme. The possibility that someone modeling themselves after Jackson would be the subject of the headline: "Donors Underwrite DeLay's Luxury Lifestyle" with a photo of Delay yucking it up on the golf course is simply inconceivable. Can you imagine Tom Delay after a week spent living hand to mouth in a tent? Hah!


Ethics: The piety of Stonewall Jackson is simply legendary. He would refuse to mail a letter if he believed the mail he sent would travel on a Sunday. The notion that Stonewall Jackson would act in any way other than the most ethical in his understanding of an issue simply is not believable. Do I really need to contrast this with Abramoff (close friend until he's indicted at which point he is an acquaintance) pal and indicted slimeball Tom Delay? Please...


The notion that Stonewall Jackson's name is besmirched by association with Tom Delay is simply not acceptable. Stonewall has enough of a hurdle to overcome with his reputation due to the side of the war he fought on. But I fear that some sort of movement to link Jackson and Delay could forever bring the reputation of Jackson to a low that no amount of military glory or personal virtue could hope to rehabilitate. I'm certain that the invocation of his name in defense of Delay caused Stonewall's bones to spin several times in his grave. Let us leave his memory in peace.

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