Friday, February 04, 2011

Two Democratic Congressmen Who Need to Be Canned

Some people accuse me of being an ideological, partisan hack just because I happen to be passionate about politics. What I try to explain to people is that most guys were born with a strong sports gene, in which they are fanatical devoted followers of their chosen sports teams (think of the long-suffering Chicago Cubs fans, living for the day when their team wins the World Series). I have no such least as it relates to sports. I couldn't give a rat's ass who's number one in any sport. I'll pick a team to root for in the Superbowl (Go Packers!) and when it comes to the annually hyped "Civil War" football games between rival state universities (in Georgia, it was UGA versus Georgia Tech; in Oregon its U of O versus Oregon State), I usually root for the team that lost last year. I've even been known to switch allegiances mid-game! Yeah, fair-weather fan is what some might call me.

Even worse to some people, when it comes to my favourite sporting event to watch (the Summer and Winter Olympics), I've been known to root for a foreign team over Team USA (as I did for the Gold Medal hockey game between Canada and the USA at the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games). That's because I'm all about fairness. I hate it when teams get greedy and win all the time (like the New York Yankees in the 1990s).

So, if the sport obsession gene happened to completely miss me, what took its place?!? Well, isn't it obvious? Politics IS my sports. That's why I'm a passionate defender of the Democratic Party. Its my party; its my team! Go asses!!! However, even though I can be a bit partisan, I still have standards and I believe that it is important for members of the party to elect good candidates to office. And when an elected official has questionable ethics or has brought shame upon the party, it is up to party members to toss these bad apples out. We've seen a few Democratic politicians crash and burn: New Jersey Governor James McGreevey in 2004, New York Governor Eliot Spitzer a few years ago, and presidential wannabe John Edwards (who will likely never be elected to any position within the party at the county level and all positions above due to his commiting a cardinal sin: Thou shalt not cheat on a spouse who is more popular than thee and diagnosed with cancer). How can we convince voters to vote for our party's candidate if they fail to meet the standards we expect in our politicians. Since the Republican Party loves to claim to be the more pious party and more in keeping with "family values", it is up to Democrats to have a higher ethical standard so that when the Republican candidate predictably fails to live up to their own saintly standards, the stain of hypocrisy hits them, not us.

So, in keeping with the high standards of the Democratic Party, I want to mention two bad boys that need to be tossed out in the next election.

The first one is Congressman David Wu of Oregon. I lived in his district from 2006 through 2010. Last year, I voted for his Democratic Primary challenger, but he was completely obliterated by the Congressman. Had I still lived in my downtown studio when the November election came around, I would have held my nose and voted for his Republican challenger. Why? Because I've never been impressed with Wu, that's why. I always had a feeling that there was something seriously fucked up about the guy. First, there were the stories about his having sexually assaulted or raped a girlfriend when he was in college. Maybe it was one of those he said / she said things, but it comes up every election cycle. No one seems to have settled the story to any kind of satisfaction.

In January, the local media reported that since last November's election, Congressman Wu has lost six staff members, including at least one who did not have a job lined up before turning in the resignation letter. To me, that sets off all kinds of alarms. When I was an Intern in D.C. a decade ago, I remember that a Capitol Hill newspaper came out with a ranking of the best and worst members of Congress to work for. One of the criterias that was considered was staff loyalty. Obviously, in any business, a high turn-over rate is a red flag that something is wrong with the boss. Congress is no different. The most startling thing I learned when reading those rankings a decade ago was that Senator John McCain had the highest staff loyalty, even though he was not well liked by his fellow Senators. The reason is because he never treated his staffers the way he does his colleagues (many of whom can speak of his volcanic temper). I see that as a kind of character worth having in a boss (better to have your boss screaming tirades at another Senator than at you!).

Its interesting that the Congressman has lost critical members of his staff and political team, including one who has gotten a job with a Congressmember with less seniority. The most obvious info one can learn from this news item is that the problem is entirely the Congressman. One of the departing staff members was even bold enough to say that she would never work for him again. Dang! Good luck getting a recommendation letter with that public comment!!! If departing staff members weren't enough, there have been complaints about Wu's behaviour during the campaign, such as asking a TSA personnel to let him past security at the airport so he could shake hands of potential voters disembarking the airplanes (he had gone to the airport to pick up his young children). This seems unusual, because as a Congressman, he's pretty "invisible" in his district. In the four years that I lived in his district, I would receive a flyer several months in advance of election day asking for my input on various issues. The one time when he had meetings with constituents in his district was during the Health Care Reform debates in the summer of 2009. For Portland residents, his town hall meeting was during the work day, but for two other meetings in other towns in the district, he met during the evening. What a freaking coward!

The map above shows the outline of the First Congressional District of Oregon. For the Portland city limits, his district covers all of the city west of the Willamette River. Part of the reason why I decided to move across the river, even though I much prefer the west side of Portland, is because I didn't want to be forced to vote for Wu's Republican opponent last November, which I definitely would have done. It really says something about a politician when a loyal Democrat such as myself can't stand to vote for you. I'm happy with the other Democratic Congressman who represents the Portland area, Earl Blumenauer. I had met him briefly during my internship in D.C. a decade ago and was impressed by his bicycle advocacy and urban renewal projects and sustainable development goals. I had wanted to live in his district when I first moved to Portland but did not know that the river was the dividing line between the two districts.

Congressman Wu is also undergoing a personal crisis. Not only did several staff members abandon him, but even his wife wants nothing to do with him. He's headed towards divorce. Its just not his year, I guess. However, why couldn't all of this come out BEFORE the election? True, we might've had one more Republican to add to the overall total nationwide, but at least that Republican seemed pretty cool (a BYU grad and a Mormon, in a mixed race marriage, and the CEO of a company he founded). Maybe in 2012, Oregonians will get smart and back a Democratic challenger who can actually defeat Wu. He needs to go.

The other bad boy in the news is Dennis Kucinich, whom I've never liked after my brief encounters with the petty tyrant. I know that I have some passionate debates with liberals who love him, but they just don't get it: the guy is phonier than a three dollar bill. He talks a good game about progressive politics, especially his proposal to create a Cabinet-level Department of Peace, yet the man is anything but peaceful. In my brief dealings with him, he came across as very egotistical and wasn't above yelling at me (an unpaid intern!) just because I did not recognize his name at the time. He is an ego-maniac and I'm afraid that all of the progressive lovefest for the Ohio Congressman with a Napoleonic-complex simply fuels his ego.

Recently, Congressman Kucinich decided to sue the company that operates the cafeterias in the U.S. Capitol building and the House office buildings. Why? Because he claims to have bought a sandwich with pitted olives. He supposedly bit down on an olive that was not pitted and required major dental work, which caused other health related crises. What can one say, the guy is a drama queen! He was suing for several hundred thousand dollars, though after the story broke last week or so, it appears that he settled for an undisclosed sum.

Anderson Cooper of CNN did some sleuthing and gave a terrific monologue of the entire scheme, completely obliterating the Congressman's credibility. First, there was video footage of the Congressman speaking on camera on the House floor just days after he ate the sandwich that had caused his mouth so much pain. This event also happened several years ago, so why was he suing now? In addition, the Congressman has a pattern of unleashing lawsuits. Does this sound like a man "at peace"? The guy has a serious chip on his shoulder. Its frustrating that my liberal friends eat the shit he serves progressives about being this "pure", "saintly" politician with impeccable morals and progressive values. The guy is a nutcase and a phony. When I posted my thoughts on him on a friend's Facebook wall, some guy who doesn't even know me actually accused me of being a closet conservative! I got a kick out of that.

No, I am a liberal and proudly so. However, I do not like phonies and being played by a charlatan, which Dennis Kucinich most certainly is. A person who is truly "spiritually enlightened" as Kucinich claims to be would not be having frivolous lawsuits that are so ridiculous that some people think his credibility might be further tarnished by this latest scheme. When one is "injured" in some way, a spiritually minded person might stop to think, "Was this a deliberate act or an accident?" Its easy to forgive an accident, but a true person of faith might even forgive a deliberate act. Was an unpitted olive truly a deliberate act against a Congressman?!?

To any liberals who may be reading this, I beg you to consider all the facts about a member of Congress. Don't blindly accept a member of Congress just because his or her ideology might reflect yours. There is something even more important than ideological purity, and that's human decency: how a member of Congress treats the people who work for them or the people who provide the services that keep the halls of Congress functioning (the cafeteria workers, the chauffeurs, the janitors, the maintenance personnel, the security, the interns, etc.). Kucinich was the only member of Congress that I dealt with who got angry at me when I did not recognize him by name. That is a strong indication of an ego out of control. At the opposite end, there was a story about John F. Kennedy, Jr. that I really like. He had introduced himself to people as "John Kennedy." Can you imagine that? One of the most famous men in the world would always introduce himself by name because he did not want to presume that people knew who he was. That's humility. Too bad Kucinich doesn't have that quality at all. Please, Cleveland voters...get rid of this guy in 2012. You can do much better than this elf with bad manners. Give him some Keebler crackers and send him back to the forest with his fair maiden.


Trish and Rob MacGregor said...

Very interesting take on Kucinich. Have always liked him, but the cafeteria incident struck me as very odd. It's insightful to see your perceptions since you've met him. Petty tyrant. Hmm. Ouch.

Sansego said...

I believe that most liberals / progressives like him for his views, not for his personality. He suffers from what my 12th grade English teacher educated the class on: "Short man's syndrome." In my experience, it has been true. I'm only 5'7", but guys I've met who are shorter than me have been pretty mean and aggressive.

I wish more people would know the truth about Kucinich. His progressive "saintly" image is just that: an image. If more people dealt with him in person, they probably would not like him. I'd like him if he practiced what he preached, but if he were on the ballot against George W. Bush, I'm afraid to say that I'd vote for Bush.