What a long, strange trip it is
by Louie b. Free (Contact) | 345 entries
I started in radio 'bout 10 years ago(my early radio daZe). One of my main 'issues' was this area's 'love' of then congressman-Jim Traficant. I refered to Jim as "mob-connected,corrupt, an embarassment and ,ineffective...", etc.
I was told-repeatedly-(among other things) that Jim was "beloved" "reveared and respected" in Washington,D.C.
No,I didn't believe it. Regular listeners know the rest 'o the story. I --live on air-- called a number of media folks from The Washington Post to U.S. News and World Report asking " what's your reaction to the name Congrressman James A Traficant ,Jr of the 17th District of Ohio? " . I got a lot of responses - none said "beloved" "reveared" or "respected"
Ok,Ok,so, last week I received a letter from a friend that I haven't spoken with for nearly FOURTY years !!!
Here is most of his letter :
I spent 13 years in Washington, worked for Reagan and Dole in the late
80's-- since Traficant was elected in 1983, he was universally seen in
Washington as a lightweight--a buffoon. Louie, EVERY time I mentioned
I was from Youngstown to ANYONE, they would bring up Traficant and
laugh. He had absolutely no respect in DC. Especially not from his
own party, who wisely put him on the Post Office committee--a
well-known dead-end committee for those members known to be
He did NOTHING for this city. Look at the difference between him and,
say, Jack Murtha from Pennyslvania. Say what you like about Murtha,
but look at what he has done for his district.
Traficant was just hot air--his shtick was aimed at the poor, unfortunate (and uneducated) blue collar
men and women of our parent's generation who worked in the mills that
eventually threw them out. The people who watched their mills be torn
down and cut up for scrap. I still remember the night on the evening
news, when I was living in Virginia, and they showed one of the
Youngstown mills getting blown up. I hung my head for this city,
amongst the laughs of my friends. That was where my dead father
worked. And Traficant has just tapped into this artery and drew from
it. He's a taker, not a giver.
I worked on the Hill in Washington, and I know the cramped spaces,
long,long hours, and low pay for what the staffers do. Traficant says
he's for the people of this city. But when he had authority over some
of the children of his supporters, what did he do, him alone among 435
members of the House? He stole from them--defenseless kids, just out
of college and eager to work for change in Washington, what did he do?
Stole from them. What did that do, you think, to their idealism, their
desire to work for the better?
The poor, naive supporters of Traficant, claiming he was set up, who
don't believe the MOUNTAIN of evidence that was produced against him,
who support him nonetheless, are in my eyes the moral equivalent of
Holocaust deniers. Blind because they wish to be.
I would absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE to see him run for Senate, as some
are urging. He will NEVER EVER do it, because he knows that outside of
the mindset of this Valley, he has no backing--his reputation is on an
equal footing with Clarabell. He is happiest here, now, where he has
no responsibility, can just mouth off in front of the cameras he so
desperately craves. Running for Senate would be the one thing he
fears, next to ignoring him, most of all--complete humiliation. Pay no
attention to the man behind the curtain, ladies and gentlemen.
The CNN article about his homecoming event said the most important
thing, in passing actually, about Traficant's backers--they are all
old. His most ardent supporters, one by one, are listed every day in
the Vindicator's obituary pages. God please be merciful to them.
Thank heavens for a new generation, coming of voting age now, who only
know of his humiliation.
All he can do is talk. His fate is sealed here in the Valley. If he
runs for either Congress seat, he won't even get the nomination.
Running as an Independent, he wouldn't even draw away enough votes to
tip the scale to the GOP. In his spleen, he knows this.
He can talk all he wants now, but he is well and truly on the hook.
And all the better for our wonderful region....
...What a long, strange trip it's been.