The Duke & Darrell Show

     I’m not a very good judge of human nature. I like people and tend to give them the benefit of the doubt.
     I met all sorts of folks when I was a newspaper editor. Their political opinions had nothing to do with what I thought of them.
     Take Duke Cunningham, who should be getting out of prison soon for the frauds he committed as a congressman. I liked him from the moment I met him, and I like him today. He’s a great old guy.
     I’ve met other criminals I liked, but I wouldn’t trust them as far as I could throw them. I’d trust Duke, though. I don’t know what I would do if people threw money and women at me. No better than Duke did, I bet.
     I liked Congressman Darrell Issa the day I met him, too, but I was wrong. Issa is a vile person.
     Do you know why I liked him? Because he never denied being an arsonist and car thief.
     Now, I’m not saying Issa is an arsonist and a car thief, though even when he was a first-termer those allegations had been made. One of his car-alarm factories burned down in the nick of time for him to start another one and become a millionaire.
     So I asked the young congressman: What about it? Did you burn down your factory and steal cars?
     Issa said: “I did a lot of dumb things when I was young.”
     Not an admission, but not a denial, either. Here was a congressman refusing to puff himself up and bloviate when his hometown newspaper asked if he was a crook. I ain’t saying he was. I’m saying I liked him because he didn’t deny it.
     Then Issa spent a couple million bucks to fund the recall of Gov. Gray Davis and shoo Arnold Schwarzenegger into office, and he became a Republican hero. Now he’s their attack dog, “investigating” A Democrat A Day For The Party.
     There’s a big difference between Duke and Darrell.
     Duke accomplished a few things during his eight terms in Congress. I disagree with just about everything he did, but Duke didn’t just squat in the middle of the road, whining and hollering.
     Like most right-wing Republicans, Duke never met a defense program he didn’t like, or a social program he did – except for education. He was a big believer in science funding, too. True, most science money went to Duke’s beloved military, but he supported science. Duke did some good even if it was by accident.
     I do not believe Darrell Issa will do any good for the rest of his miserable life. I believe his legacy will be a slimy trail of venom.
     During years of widespread unemployment, economic crisis for all but the super-rich, warfare around the world, nuclear perils, worldwide climate alarm, overt multitrillion-dollar corruption in banks and on Wall Street, Issa has done nothing but try to Grind Congress to a Halt.
     But wielding power for a party is not the same as wielding power for one’s country.
     Less government is not the same thing as obstructing government from doing the jobs no one else can do.
     Freedom and liberty may, but need not, include stirring up hatred against half of one’s own country, whether there are reasons for blame, as there sometimes are, or whether the hatred and blame are based on fantasy, as they sometimes are.
     Darrell Issa is a Party Man. The Republican Party boosted him onto its shoulders and is carrying him around like a hero today, but as soon as it finds it convenient to dump him, it will. When it does, or when he dies or gets caught at something, Issa will leave Congress without having accomplished a goddam thing.
     History records all sorts of political parties, which rose and fell, spouting virtue, inflicting misery, leaving misery behind them.

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