The Man with Two Right Feet

“We should go over to the Senate and join in a press conference with them,” I told then-Majority Whip Tom DeLay (R-Texas) just a few weeks after I started as his new communications director. It was an opportunity to be high-profile in a non-political issue and seemed to make all the sense in the world.

“Why?” DeLay asked.

“It will be good for your image,” I said.

“I don’t care about my image,” he said quickly.

“Well, that’s obvious,” I replied just as quickly, then realized what I had said to someone I barely knew.

Silence. Then loud, genuine laughter from the whip.

Despite a public image that would make you think he’s all gruff and no fun, DeLay is actually a great staff guy to work for. He considers your point of view — although he may well disagree — and strongly defends staff from outside criticism as long as they are working in good faith. Fiercely.

Today, ABC announced that DeLay will be one of the headliners in the upcoming season of “Dancing with the Stars.” Other contestants include former Dallas Cowboys great Michael Irvin, Kathy Ireland and UFC former light heavyweight champion Chuck “The Iceman” Liddell, among others.

Don’t be fooled. The man can dance. “DWTS” also added new dances for this season, including the Two Step. If that dance comes up early in the season, then this Texan has a shot to advance far. And to quote former DeLay flack and PR pro Jonathan Grella, “His partner shouldn’t forget he can twist an arm, too.”

“DWTS” is one of the classier reality shows and is a true meritocracy. Either you get it done or you don’t.

At first glance, this may seem an unconventional approach to rehab an image. But this move is a good way to reach people who have their political guard down.

My advice? Have fun.