Mahoning County Democratic Party Chairman David Betras issued a statement about the impending release from federal prison of former Congressman-turned-criminal James A. Traficant Jr. that can only be described as a joke. It would have been better had Betras kept his mouth shut.
A chairman is supposed to define the moral underpinnings of the party, and in the case of Traficant, the issue is clear: No honest person in the Mahoning Valley can embrace him as a conquering hero. But that’s what his many supporters, almost all of them Democrats, are doing.
Betras’ statement should have said, “Let’s not add to our already negative political reputation by honoring Traficant when he is released from prison on Sept. 2.”
Instead, here’s what the chairman said in a statement e-mailed to the press: “I know that many people hold great affection for him and are anxious to welcome him back, but it is my hope that they will respect his privacy as he rejoins our community. I wish him and his family well as they begin a new chapter in their lives.”
Talk about namby-pamby. Gag me with a crooked politician.
Betras, who hasn’t been the leader of the county Democratic Party very long, must know that his refusal to repudiate Traficant only feeds the perception that all politics in this region are tainted.