His emotional appeal to panel members may be his most positive influence throughout the hearings, one political scientist said.
By KATIE-NELL SCANLON
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- Was U.S. Rep. James A. Traficant Jr. effective in making his points with members of a House ethics subcommittee deciding his fate in Congress? It depends on which political expert you talk to.
Paul Sracic, a political science professor at Youngstown State University, was impressed with the congressman's appearance and not surprised by his behavior.
"Given the story that he wants to get out there, he actually performed very well," Sracic said. "He did a good job of trying to link what he was saying to each one of the charges."
It was to Traficant's benefit to attempt to discredit each one of the charges against him individually, Sracic said, but it was a method he hadn't done very well previously.
However, Melanie J. Blumberg, assistant professor of history and political science at California University in Pennsylvania, observed that subcommittee members seemed disinterested in what Traficant said, to the point that the congressman himself commented several times that they've already made up their minds.
The congressman answered allegations Monday from the congressional panel to determine whether he should face disciplinary action in the U.S. House.
Sracic said Traficant's emotional appeal directed at individual panel members may be his most positive influence throughout the hearings. He noted that the congressman's direct addresses to Rep. Joel Hefley, R-Colo., subcommittee chairman, and Rep. Steven C. LaTourette, R-Ohio, accomplished what only Traficant can.
"He can reach out and make those connections," Sracic said. "That's something counsel couldn't do for him."
Blumberg found that the most striking thing about the hearings was the government's concise, logical statement as the committee addressed the charges one by one.
Blumberg said Traficant appeared unusually controlled under the circumstances.
What's in store for the future hearings? Blumberg said she expects Traficant to resort to his traditional ways.
"That's his trademark. That's him," she said. "Anybody can admire how he can keep that material in his head."