By Bertram de Souza
Yes, a year does make a difference. Last Tuesday, the disgraced former attorney general of Ohio, Marc Dann, who was born and raised in Cuyahoga County, was leaving The Vindicator building when he crossed paths with this writer.
“I thought you brought me flowers,” Dann said, looking at the bright yellow umbrella dotted with images of cute cats and dogs,
“Hello, Marc.” And a handshake.
A year ago, as he was slithering out of the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, the quip from this writer would have been, “No, I sent the flowers to your political funeral.”
What has happened in the 365 days since Marc Dann resigned from one of the most important positions in state government?
It could be that age has dulled this writer’s journalistic blade. Or, it may well be that like other Mahoning Valley officeholders who have fallen from grace, Dann has become a nonentity, or in the words of that most famous of all corrupt elected officials, jailbird James A. Traficant Jr., “a mosquito nibbling on an elephant’s ass.” He is now an irritant.
The one-year anniversary of his resignation after just 16 months on the job is a reminder of how he blew a promising political career because of letting all the power go to his head. He had a extramarital affair with an employee — the woman had the heady position of scheduler — and turned a blind eye to the sexual escapades of other members of his inner circle.
The reason for his resignation has become the stuff of political legend. It has been analyzed from every angle and by both, his supporters (of whom there are precious few) and his detractors (the number took a huge jump Sunday after an extensive interview with him was published in The Vindicator.)
The self-serving poppycock that he offered as answers to questions posed to him served only to lower the opinion people have of him.
On Sunday, in a coffee shop in Liberty Township, one long-time reader of The Vindicator offered this observation:
“There is only one question he [the reporter] should have asked Dann: ‘How does it feel to be the biggest jackass in Ohio?’”
And reading the apology he wrote — it was published verbatim in last Sunday’s paper — the word jackass does seem appropriate.
First and foremost, the people of Ohio don’t care whether Dann is still a resident of the state, or has relocated to Siberia. As for apologizing to his family, doing it in private is much more appropriate.
You want your wife to forgive you? Buy her a huge diamond. You want your kids to forget what a tool you really are? Give them your credit card and drop them off at the mall.
But it is presumptuous to think that publishing an apology will make for compelling reading. The only ones who really care are journalists looking for holes in the mea culpa.
Here’s one in Dann’s rendition of that old favorite, “I’m Sorry”:
“I deeply regret that the reputation of the community that I love has been tarred by my failures.”
The Mahoning Valley tarred by his failures? No. More like disgusted, because he fooled the voters of Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties by presenting himself as a paragon of virtue.
“I have learned the importance of being humble even when you have reason to be proud.”
Reason to be proud?
Den of inequity
It doesn’t matter how often Dann tells us about all the great accomplishments during the 16-month tenure. The only thing people will remember about the disgraced attorney general is that he and two of his Valley buddies he put on the public payroll, Leo Jennings and Anthony Gutierrez, turned the office into a den of inequity.
“I’ve learned about the difference between fast friends and true friends.”
Don’t know what he has learned, but here’s one difference: Fast friends can become true friends if you pay them enough.
So, if Dann wants more people to join him on Facebook, he should offer them the Fiesta tableware his wife sells.