Traficant: Star of the sideshow

When ex-con (con, as in convict and congressman) James A. Traficant Jr. was told that his name would not appear on the general election ballot for the 17th Congressional District race, this writer felt a deep sense of … satisfaction.

The rejection of Traficant’s petitions because they lacked the required number of signatures of qualified voters confirmed what was written about the ex-con on May 5, a day after the primary:

“Traficant filed petitions at the Trumbull County Board of Elections to run as an independent for the 17th District congressional seat in the November general election. He also indicated to reporters that he was going to file petitions at the Columbiana County Board of Elections to run in the 6th congressional district. He said he would hold a news conference.

“Members of the press rushed to Lisbon, but Traficant was a no-show.

“He and the hapless members of his inner circle may have been in stitches over the way Jimbo pulled a fast one on the press. But, all that Monday’s event proved is that Traficant is not a serious man.”

To repeat: The former 17th District congressman who was expelled from the House after being convicted of 10 federal criminal charges is not a serious man.

A joke

Indeed, since coming out of federal prison last August after serving seven-plus years for racketeering, bribery, tax evasion and seven other charges, he has been nothing but a joke.

His attention-grabbing antics have, unfortunately, resulted in the local, state and national press giving him undeserved attention.

His announcement that he intended to run for Congress as an agent of change (as opposed to an agent of crime?) got him on national television.

Note to out-of-town reporters: The next time you come to the Mahoning Valley to do a piece on this criminal, talk to someone who has known him for three decades and can recite the many instances of his egocentric, mercurial behavior.

On May 2, this writer, commenting on Traficant’s decision to run for Congress, wrote in this space:

“On the other hand, Traficant would be doing the Mahoning Valley a big favor by not running this year. His candidacy will dredge up the region’s putrid political history and will turn the state and national spotlight on us — and not in a good way.

“As has been noted in this space, there are a lot of positive things going on in the Valley that are overshadowed by this man who knows no shame.

“Do the good people of this region really want him around when the French owners of V&M Star come to town to cut the ribbon on the $650 million expansion project?

“Of course not.”

But now, with his political comeback in tatters, what should Traficant do?

Here are some suggestions:

He could become a circus carny. After all, he has proved to be the king of the sideshow. Kudos to Congressman Tim Ryan of Niles, D-17th, who dismissed Traficant’s possible challenge of him in these words: “We’ve done a good job staying focused regardless of the sideshows going on.”

He could star in a television show called “Black Helicopters” in which the ex-con and his almost brain dead disciples don helmets made of aluminum foil (with eyeball antenna) and then go from rooftop to rooftop looking up at the sky waiting for the attack.

Become an Elvis impersonator in Las Vegas. He learned to play the guitar in prison and was drawn to Elvis Presley’s song book. His “Jailhouse Rock” would be an instant hit in Sin City.

Or, there’s always his radio show, which he hosts each Saturday on a Clear Channel station in Cleveland. There is an audience for just about every kook with a microphone in this great land. Traficant has a great shtick: The federal government is your enemy.

He could start a political consulting company and hire other crooked politicians to give advice on such topics as: How to take a bribe and when caught insist it was a loan; how to take money from mobsters and then insist that you did so keep it out of the hands of your opponents; if an officeholder, how to require your staff to work on your farm and then claim it was a weight-loss program.

Or, Traficant could become a magician and ... make himself disappear.

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