If you’re lucky, you get the drunken violence out of your system by the time you’re in your 30s.
You stop slapping and punching people. You stop driving under the influence of alcohol before you marry and have children, when you take on the responsibilities of looking out not just for yourself but for others. You stop conniving and living a lie.
If you’re lucky, you wise up.
At 46, state Rep. Kevin Murphy is old enough to know better.
But he’s definitely not lucky.
Murphy isn’t too smart, either.
Scranton’s wild lawmaker is dangerous - a menace to himself and others, including his family and the taxpayers who pay his wages and expect him to behave in a civilized manner.
Murphy is crashing and burning before our very eyes.
Scheduled for a Monday court hearing on assault charges against his wife and her friend, Murphy recently told a newspaper reporter that the allegations his wife made against him in her successful application for a protection from abuse order are false. As expected, Murphy refused to get into the details about the Friday night incident that sent shock waves through an otherwise safe neighborhood.
Police accuse Murphy of attacking his wife, viciously slapping her in the face and then manhandling her as he pushed her head to the floor of a car. Murphy then punched his wife’s friend in the face as he tried to help, eventually putting the man in a choke hold.
Neighbors described Murphy to police as being “heavily intoxicated.” The lawmaker then fled in his car, launching an overnight manhunt for a fugitive who disappeared until the next day when Murphy turned himself in.
Now Murphy tells us in his practiced legislative tones that he is looking forward to defending himself. He says he was looking out for the best interests of his young children who he claims called him for help because they were home alone.
Murphy to the rescue? I don’t think so. If witnesses are right, Murphy arrived drunk and disorderly. That’s looking out for his children? Did he plan to put them in his car and drive them in a drunken blur to safety?
I pray that Murphy takes the witness stand Monday to tell us his side of the story. I expect him to do just that. And I hope prosecutors will be ready for him.
Murphy is not a very good liar. I caught him in a career-ender the day before the April 24 primary election when I asked him if he really had the degree from the University of Scranton that he had claimed for more than 20 years.
Murphy possessed no degree. Yet his dance of deception began. But Murphy had two left feet. I immediately saw through his desperation. Seeing a sad, new side of this otherwise confident and competent legislator whom I had grown to like, I felt betrayed by his lies.
So did his constituents.
Murphy lost the nomination to a former profession boxer and cage fighter whose own heavy character baggage will follow him into the General Assembly.
But Murphy still carries the heaviest load.
Murphy once told me that he was contemplating not running for re-election because his wife was ill. Now he stands accused of slapping this same woman in the face with that big, meaty paw of his that he once raised when he swore on his honor to uphold the public trust.
Like his political career and his marriage, Murphy’s honor is a thing of the past. Although I’ve seen local legislators lose their prestige and power at the polls, I’ve never seen anything like this.
Murphy could get better.
Murphy could get worse.
But based on the shallow interview he gave the newspaper reporter, Murphy is already manipulating and trying to squirm his way out of this terrible dilemma.
If police and witnesses are right, Murphy should plead guilty, beg for forgiveness from his wife and children and throw himself on the mercy of the court.
If convicted, a county prison sentence is in order. While he’s serving his time, Murphy should attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and hope that he’s strong enough to start all over again. Redemption is not beyond his reach. But as long as Murphy continues to try to play everybody for a fool, he will fail time and time again.
To begin to get better, Murphy must face himself.
Murphy must once and for all admit that he is the biggest fool in the room.