No Retreat, No Surrender: One American's Fight

Article excerpt

No Retreat, No Surrender: One American's Fight Tom DeLay, with Stephen Mansfield Sentinel, 2007

Congressman Tom DeLay has long been one of the "lightning rod" figures in American politics. He resigned from the U.S. House of Representatives in 2005 after serving there for 22 years, much of the time in Republican leadership roles. As the title to this book makes clear, he was stalwartly partisan on behalf of his Party and his principles. This led to his becoming the majority leader in the House in 2003, but also called down upon his head an unending series of attacks from his enemies.

He was forced out of his leadership role when, as he says, a "partisan Democrat" district attorney in Texas got a grand jury to indict him for money laundering (a charge he denies). An internal Republican Party rule (which he himself had helped enact) provided that anyone indicted must resign from the leadership. Going further, he resigned his seat in Congress in June 2006, believing that he would no longer be able to have a significant impact in Congress and could be more effective elsewhere.

This is a valuable book that enables the reader to see DeLay's career as he himself sees it. Like the elephant examined by the blind men in the Indian story, it is a career that can be perceived in many ways. The book describes a man of great energy and gives an insider's view of the Republican Party program in Congress before and after the "Contract With America" in 1994-5. Of especial interest are DeLay's characterizations of such other major personalities in the Congress and in American politics as Newt Gingrich, Dick Armey, Dennis Hastert, and presidents George H. W. Bush, George W. Bush, William Clinton and Richard Nixon.

DeLay's political position as a Goldwater-Reagan conservative is summarized concisely when he tells us that "I want to reduce the size of government." Specific points include restoring the primacy of the Congress, reducing the executive branch, restraining judicial activism, returning the control of education to the states and localities, promoting the deregulation of business, supporting "unrestrained free trade worldwide," and stopping illegal immigration but with a "restricted guest worker program." A salient part of his belief-system developed when he became a committed Christian after attending a Bible study group during his first year in Congress. He is strongly opposed to abortion, and his study of the Bible has created in him a "love of Israel." In fact, he says that the reason he resigned his Congressional seat was "to be free... to advance conservative causes and support Israel."

The book is engaging as a personal chronicle, but isn't deeply thoughtful. He points with pride to the various ways that the "Republican Revolution of 1994" (when the Republican Party won a majority in Congress that lasted until the 2006 election) has "transformed America." Many of his fellow "conservatives," however, sense that the United States is in serious difficulty, indeed peril, from what they feel is the hollowing-out of the American economy through the free-trade globalization that DeLay endorses. …