Published January 11, 2010
As the remaining years in Traficant's sentence dwindled, and the prospects of his return grew more real, my principal concern was that he be marginalized on his return. Though some misguided folks, like the lamentable Biz Society, are still inviting him to make headlines, and though a handful of supporters refuse to let the dream die, as the New York Times opines this morning, "Trusted civic leaders — people who fight endlessly for reform — estimate Mr. Traficant’s standing to be at best as a talk-radio grievance peddler, not as a resurrected politician capable of catching on, as he is trying to do, with the new tea-party theatrics."
Mr. Traficant was spellbinding in the courtroom — a self-absorbed bully, a tragic clown vowing vengeance as he was led off. You had to hope there was no second act for a politician like him.If there isn’t, something is right in Youngstown.
Despite reports of an upcoming radio show in Cleveland and the expectation that Traficant will challenge Charlie Wilson in the primaries, there is evidence that Youngstown has moved on. In fact, the very fact that Traficant's show is in Cleveland demonstrates that Traficant's best deal for his pontifications was not in his home market.
Traficant is not one to let an opportunity pass where he can get attention. Therefore, the most optimistic scenario is that he uses his radio show as a platform to push his campaign for Congress. The radio sponsors come under pressure for having a candidate as a hired talker and push him out. Cool heads prevail in the primary and hand him a definitive defeat, shattering the mystique still held in some press circles about his influence with the voting public. And, finally, Traficant is resigned to a career as wig consultant at his wife's beauty parlor.