Published March 10, 2009
I could talk about Rush Limbaugh and the GOP this week, but I won't. I could talk about the op-ed pieces I've been reading proclaiming the end of capitalism, but I won't. There are interesting and important events happening on the national scene, but I'm not going to waste my breath on them. Why?
Sunday's Vindicator reported that local Democratic Party chairpersons will welcome Traficant back "with open arms."
Trumbull County Democratic Party Chair Christ Michelakis: "I think he got railroaded. He was a good congressman, and he helped us a lot."
Columbiana County Democratic Chairman Dennis Johnson: "So many people have a lot of good memories of him. I think he’ll be well-received. He and I were friends for a long time."
We can disagree about the appropriateness of Traficant's sentencing. We can have opposing views on just how much Traficant accomplished for the community. But, if you think he was unfairly targeted on trumped up charges, you haven't begun to do your research.
Traficant was found guilty of no fewer than ten charges. He forced his own employees to give him kickbacks, for Pete's sake. He traded legislative favors for work on his boat and farm. That's not even to go into the entanglement with organized crime that should have gotten him locked up in 1982. He put on his underdog pose, threw some flashbombs to distract the jury and walked away.
Not chastened, he proceeded to piss all over the House of Representatives, where he served nine terms, progressively alienating everyone in power who might have been instrumental in really helping the Valley. He was too caught up in his own image and flamboyance to care how his constituents looked or fared as a result of his renegade representation.
This is not a victim. Let me say it again: Jim Traficant is not a victim. Traficant is a perpetrator, a thief, a felon. Until this Valley stands with one voice and says "no more" to corruption, we'll be unable to effectively rebut the mobtown stereotypes crafted by the hands of Traficant and every other politician who looked the other way to organized crime or actively traded pennies for power while their people cried out for help.