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Dancing With the Hammer

September 21 was the season premiere of ABC’s Dancing with the Stars, one of the most popular shows on network television.

Its popularity is due to two reasons: the love of “second acts” (popular actors, athletes or media personalities of yesteryear making a comeback), and the physical fitness required of the celebrity contestants, mostly in their forties, fifties and sixties, to master the wide variety of dances for the competition.

The question we have to ask is why does ABC want to give Tom DeLay a second act? If DeLay, the former Republican Party whip and majority leader in Congress, were just your average nasty Republican, I wouldn’t care so much. But he is responsible for some of the greatest miseries of our time, from the Patriotic Act to the non-response to the destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina.

He was called “the Hammer” for his totalitarian rule and the retribution he would take on opponents. From DeLay’s point of view, being on Dancing is a political windfall. It’s an opportunity to soften his image before his upcoming trial on felony charges for violating campaign funding raising laws.

But if there is one thing that I find the most infuriating about DeLay being on Dancing with the Stars, it is the glee he felt destroying workplace safety rules.

Dancing with the Stars relies on contestants being in top shape to compete. Millions of American every year needlessly suffer short-term or permanent injuries in their workplaces. After a decade of study, the Labor Department, in the waning days of the Clinton administration, passed new ergonomics rules that would have curbed these injuries.

DeLay, in the early days of the Bush administration, got these rules killed, ensuring that needless injuries would continue–many of whom would suffer limited mobility for the rest of their lives. Paul Wellstone, the late Minnesota senator, described the resolution rescinding these rules as sending a clear message to the American worker that “You are expendable.”

Tom DeLay told the Washington Times after the new ergonomics rules were killed, “I can’t get this grin off my face. I go to sleep and wake up with it.”

A sick bastard like this deserves no second act.

JOE ALLEN lives in Chicago. He is the author of Vietnam: The (Last) War the U.S. Lost. He can be reached at: joeallen705@gmail.com

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