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And now our long national nightmare is over—or is it?
[July 24, 2002]

By Nicholas Provenzo

I was trying to determine just exactly what was the most boorish statement uttered by convicted felon and now ex-Representative James Traficant. That's more of a challenge than one might think. This is a good one:

"I wanted to have Playboy bunnies come on at night to meet with me. I wanted to be promiscuous with them." (Traficant to the House ethics subcommittee on why he kept a boat docked in the Potomac.)

Or then there's the following:

"If you don't get those cameras out of my face, I'm gonna go 8.6 on the Richter scale with gastric emissions that'll clear this room!" (Traficant to photojournalists covering his ethics subcommittee hearing.)

I'll spare you the others quotes, but you see where this is going. So how then did this kickback-taking, favor-selling, uncouth, bizarre man ever find his way to the halls of Congress? Traficant had two gimmicks up the sleeves of his polyester suits: he simultaneously brought government money back to his district while he worked the anti-government line for all it was worth. That's it. That's all he did. His one minute speeches bordered on the insane. I can't imagine how any other member would want him as a co-sponsor of their bills. Traficant certainly lent no credibility to any serious issue. He's been a disgrace from the start, even before his behavior was proven to be criminal.

Traficant was such a fool it seems impossible that anyone could lose an election to him and yet they did, nine times. Traficant's worthlessness certainly didn't stop people from writing him checks for his campaigns. Big donors included the NEA Fund For Children And Public Education, the American Society Of Travel Agents PAC, the Realtors Political Action Committee, the Air Line Pilots Association PAC, the Bank One Corporation PAC, the Association Of Trial Lawyers Of America PAC and perhaps most amazingly, the so-called "Effective Government Committee," among others.

The real shame is that anyone fell for Traficant's act in the first place. It's been pointed out that the Youngstown, Ohio area he represented suffers from chronic high unemployment and has yet to recover from the collapse of big steel in the late '70. If anything, Traficant proves yet again that the shell game of wealth redistribution does not lead to anything other than corruption. Traficant thought he was the lord of other people's money and unfortunately, he is far from alone in that regard.

 

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