Tuesday, August 12, 2008
The Time I Was Politely Ordered to Leave Tom Delay's House
Now here's a story that, with google's help, I can precisely date. On April 3, 2006, rumors were flying around the newsroom that Tom Delay was about to announce his resignation from the House of Representatives.
So late in the evening, maybe around 9, they send me to Sugarland, an upscale Houston suburb, to find his house. I'm given a vague address, and I'm supposed to meet up with the reporter and photographer. I guess we were supposed to yell questions from the sidewalk? I don't know.
So I get to the street. Its a pretty nice street. I mean, its Sugarland. Small, two-story condo-looking things, all nearly identical, 10 feet of space between each one, with well-pruned shrubs and no yard.
I call the desk. "Well, I'm here. But there is no FREAKING way Tom Delay lives on this street." It was just a normal suburban street. I don't know what I was expecting... a giant estate with lawn jockeys and a guard shack? A palace draped in giant American flags? A red glow radiating up through the soil? Not this.
By then the reporter & photog had arrived, and they had an exact address. We found the number. A normal looking house, right on the street, no fence, no guard dogs, no ravens perched on the eaves.
We discussed the situation. "There's no way this is Tom Delay's house. Maybe a mail drop or something to keep his residency active. But there's no way one of the most powerful men in the world actually LIVES in this house." They pretty much agreed, and set about on the phone trying to convince the desk of the wild goose being chased. I don't recall if the reporter ever went up and knocked on the door. He probably did. So after 10 minutes or so, I'm ready to roll out and hit the Whataburger on the drive home. Suddenly, an unmarked black sedan, black windows, lots of antennas, comes rolling around the corner and pulls up behind me.
Well. What do you know. It IS freaking Tom Delay's house.
A guy in a sharp suit (was he wearing sunglasses? It would be awesome if he had been wearing sunglasses at 10:00 at night.) strolls up to my window, badge and ID cards already out. Calm and professional. "Hello sir, I'm Lieutenant so-and-so with the US Capitol Police. Mr. Delay has requested that you leave his house so he and his wife can get some sleep."
Heh. Cool. "Um, ok. No problem." You just know not to argue with a guy like this. He probably sleeps in his suit, standing up. And those bulges under his coat aren't cigarettes and a fat wallet. I thought the US Capitol Police thing was kind of odd, but it turns out they are responsible for security for members of Congress throughout the country. "I think we were just leaving anyway."
I started the truck and rolled over to the crew. "We gots to go, boys."
So after expressing our amazement that this was actually Tom Delay's house, and realizing the unlikelihood of Tom appearing on his balcony to serenade us, we left.
Now I loathe Tom Delay as much as the next thoughtful American, but I have to admit being impressed that he actually lives in a normal house in a normal neighborhood. Obviously he has the security guys on speed dial, but he wasn't surrounded by them.
The event did leave me thinking... You just assume a guy like Tom Delay is loaded. I know members of congress don't make much more than the average business executive, but with all the things that guy has his hands in... I mean, what's the point of kissing all that oil execs ass and getting cherry tax breaks for your constituents if you're just gonna live on a normal street in Sugar Land? He couldn't have spent it ALL on plastic surgery. Damn, Tom, am I gonna have to show you how to enjoy life?