The Republican Right and Me

Republican Attack Dog Darrell Issa will not run for a tenth term in his congressional district in San Diego this year, though Smart Dogs say he’ll just move to a district next door, where the annoying people he represents in Congress will not gather outside his office once a week to talk back to him. I like Issa, though I don’t like his politics. Here’s why.

When Issa ran for his first term in 2000 I was an editorial page editor for a daily newspaper in his home district. The paper never had endorsed a Democrat, and never did until it folded.

I’m sorry, I mean “merged.”

For reasons beyond my ken I had been promoted from the copy desk to the editorial page, and Issa came to talk to the edit board, seeking our endorsement.

He already was a millionaire from his Viper car-theft device. Along the way to his millions, though, he’d been suspected of arson: burning down a factory after he’d quadrupled the insurance on it, and after the computers had been hauled out.

I asked Issa about this.

“What about it?” I said.

Issa said: “I did a lot of dumb things when I was young.”

Wow! I thought.

That was before he became slick and oily — a professional politician. But at one time in his life — autumn 2000 — I thought Darrell Issa was a good guy.

I also like Duke Cunningham, a 10-term congressman from San Diego, one of our only two pilot aces from the Vietnam war, and supposedly a model for Tom Cruise’s character in the movie “Top Gun.”

Duke served 8 years in federal prison for conspiracy, fraud and tax evasion, involving more than $2 million in bribes and professional services from prostitutes. I met Duke at an edit board meeting for which I had prepared meticulously: by donning an Uncle Sam necktie, with Sam pointing right out from my heart, in red, white and blue.

When I met Duke and shook his hand he said, “I like the tie.”

I flipped it over to the back side, which said in big blue letters: “Fuck Communism.”

I liked Duke and still do. I would be proud to call him my friend and defend him against all comers, though I always abhorred his politics. I don’t think Duke did anything that most Members of Congress have not done, except for the women.

Now let us consider the only other congressman whom it was my pleasure to meet more than once, Solomon Ortiz, a nine-term Democrat from South Texas (1983-2001).

Solomon (the lawgiver) was sheriff of Nueces County when the Party picked him to run for Congress. It was understood to be a one-term thing, until the Party’s guy could extract himself from a few problems. But the Party guy died in a plane crash, so they were stuck with Solomon.

I met Solomon several times in my role of city editor and Beacon of Justice. He was — and I am sorry to say this, as he is 80 years old today, and surely deserves to live in peace — as dumb as a box of rocks. A nonentity in a suit.

Why do I bring this up?

Because I do not understand why the Democratic Party so often nominates such bland nonentities as its candidates, while the Republicans — so often these days vicious, self-seeking racists and demagogues — nominate people with personality.

The personality may be obnoxious, but isn’t that better than having no personality at all?

Allow me to reiterate the Kahn Theorem: Republicans are liars and Democrats are cowards. And American voters will always prefer a liar to a coward.

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