Tom Delay Dances with the Stars

Last summer's announcement that former House Majority Leader Tom Delay would appear on the ABC show, Dancing With the Stars, caused a minor sensation.  DWTS has resuscitated the careers of former actors, singers, athletes, and activists.  Until this season Jerry Springer was the only former elected official to ever grace its dance floor.  Springer was a terrible dancer but no stranger to show biz.  Delay was not known to be a dancer or a real showman.  So to what new heights might the reality television warhorse launch the retired Congressman?

Delay did not disappoint in week one.  Partnered with two time DWTS champion Cheryl Burke, Delay danced the cha cha and waltz.  He exhibited decent footwork in the cha cha (set to the Troggs's "Wild Thing") and better -- a knack for entertaining a crowd.  He gamely shook his tush, lip synced, and slid across the floor on his knees.  This number elicited the response from Judge Bruno Tonioli, "You're crazier than Sarah Palin!"  Not bad, considering Delay had sustained pre-stress fractures in his feet during training.

Like all the best contestants, Delay is gracious with his partner and seems to be having a great time.  There is, however, a caveat.  Delay is this season's ironic contestant.  (Cloris Leachman was last season's.)  He's on the show to contrast the young pop stars and retired football players.  He is not expected to win.  Despite his animation, Burke and Delay scored badly in the cha cha.  Viewers nonetheless voted them through to the next week.   

If there is any hope for Delay's performance it is pinned to his partner, Cheryl Burke.  Ms. Burke consistently makes it to the show's final rounds.  DWTS challenges its ‘stars' to learn dances at a professional pace.  The better the teacher, the better the odds the contestant will succeed.  Burke is an excellent teacher.  In rehearsal she appears patient and focused.   If Delay can stay injury-free, Burke will do the rest. 

In last night's episode the two performed a tango.  It was simple and well executed, but fell apart when Delay lost his balance in the final pose.  He and Burke scored 18 points and are tied for last place.  Voters will determine whether they continue next week.  The results are broadcast tonight.

After their tango, guest judge Baz Luhrman commented to Delay, "I thought you had great dignity and grace, and one has to celebrate that."  Did ‘the Hammer' ever imagine he would be getting praise from the director of Strictly Ballroom?  I don't think so.  Backstage, awaiting his tango score, co-host Samantha Harris asked Delay what reaction he'd gotten from his friends.  Delay said he'd heard from the former Speaker of the House and twenty four members of Congress.  "They all think I'm crazy."

Pre-stress fractures are painful.  I would not be surprised if Delay drops out next week.  But the Hammer remains determined.  "The foot hurts, but we're gonna dance till it breaks." Amen.

Natalie Axton, formerly Natalie Bostick, is a writer in New York.
Last summer's announcement that former House Majority Leader Tom Delay would appear on the ABC show, Dancing With the Stars, caused a minor sensation.  DWTS has resuscitated the careers of former actors, singers, athletes, and activists.  Until this season Jerry Springer was the only former elected official to ever grace its dance floor.  Springer was a terrible dancer but no stranger to show biz.  Delay was not known to be a dancer or a real showman.  So to what new heights might the reality television warhorse launch the retired Congressman?

Delay did not disappoint in week one.  Partnered with two time DWTS champion Cheryl Burke, Delay danced the cha cha and waltz.  He exhibited decent footwork in the cha cha (set to the Troggs's "Wild Thing") and better -- a knack for entertaining a crowd.  He gamely shook his tush, lip synced, and slid across the floor on his knees.  This number elicited the response from Judge Bruno Tonioli, "You're crazier than Sarah Palin!"  Not bad, considering Delay had sustained pre-stress fractures in his feet during training.

Like all the best contestants, Delay is gracious with his partner and seems to be having a great time.  There is, however, a caveat.  Delay is this season's ironic contestant.  (Cloris Leachman was last season's.)  He's on the show to contrast the young pop stars and retired football players.  He is not expected to win.  Despite his animation, Burke and Delay scored badly in the cha cha.  Viewers nonetheless voted them through to the next week.   

If there is any hope for Delay's performance it is pinned to his partner, Cheryl Burke.  Ms. Burke consistently makes it to the show's final rounds.  DWTS challenges its ‘stars' to learn dances at a professional pace.  The better the teacher, the better the odds the contestant will succeed.  Burke is an excellent teacher.  In rehearsal she appears patient and focused.   If Delay can stay injury-free, Burke will do the rest. 

In last night's episode the two performed a tango.  It was simple and well executed, but fell apart when Delay lost his balance in the final pose.  He and Burke scored 18 points and are tied for last place.  Voters will determine whether they continue next week.  The results are broadcast tonight.

After their tango, guest judge Baz Luhrman commented to Delay, "I thought you had great dignity and grace, and one has to celebrate that."  Did ‘the Hammer' ever imagine he would be getting praise from the director of Strictly Ballroom?  I don't think so.  Backstage, awaiting his tango score, co-host Samantha Harris asked Delay what reaction he'd gotten from his friends.  Delay said he'd heard from the former Speaker of the House and twenty four members of Congress.  "They all think I'm crazy."

Pre-stress fractures are painful.  I would not be surprised if Delay drops out next week.  But the Hammer remains determined.  "The foot hurts, but we're gonna dance till it breaks." Amen.

Natalie Axton, formerly Natalie Bostick, is a writer in New York.