After five years on the California frontier, I returned home to hard coal country to continue my pursuit of truth, justice and the Northeastern Pennsylvania way. And the first big public question I asked on the air of a powerful elected official created a major hassle.
U.S. Rep. Chris Carney quickly became agitated when I asked about a meeting he attended at the White House. I read about the meeting in the newspaper and wanted to know who else was there. Carney had been quick to bring up the meeting because it made him look good.
But I wanted more. The people deserved better. After all, the Democratic Congressman was getting paid to do the people’s business. And we’re the people.
Carney refused to answer my questions.
He and I continued a running battle for a couple of years. I criticized him whenever I had reason to question his judgment. I considered him a conservative warmonger with his finger on the trigger of killer drones who also hurt women with his anti-abortion intransigence.
He seemed more Republican than Democrat and played both sides against the middle. He was Heckle and Jeckle sitting on the fence. But when he ran for re-election, I supported his campaign.
That’s because a stolen railroad car loaded with coal dirt would have brought more integrity to Washington politics than Carney’s Republican opponent, Tom Marino, a former U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania.
Marino misled voters. He told stories about himself he could not prove. Babbling and mumbling, he changed his stories. Over time, Marino became one of the worst prevaricators and congressional candidates in the history of the United States.
Then he won the November election.
Democrats detested me when I chastised Carney. Then they loved me when I led the charge against Mario.
One unchanging fact is that politics creates a fickle season all year round.
During the 2008 presidential race, Democrats accused me of racism when I opposed Barack Obama. They wailed when I banned Vice President Joe Biden from his Scranton hometown because he lied about having relatives who worked in the mines.
Republicans giggled and loved me.
Democrats went crazy when I hammered Scranton native son and U.S. Sen. Bobby Casey. One of his young relatives even wrote me a letter attacking my position. Supporters couldn’t understand how I could find fault with a kinder, gentler brother Democrat.
That’s right. I’m a Democrat. I have to be to vote in the primary election.
I voted for Hillary, too, in case you forgot, despite the Democratic Party’s sexist overt campaign of sabotage and subterfuge that helped sink her shot at the White House. “Barackocrats” and Republicans hated me back when I was supporting Hillary.
And when Barack and I spoke on the air, Democrats again howled that I disrespected him because I asked him about race and his failure to kick cigarettes.
Of course, Republicans were thrilled with me.
The hugs kept coming when I announced that I could not in clear conscience vote for the re-election of longtime U.S. Rep. Paul Kanjorski in his bid to remain in office despite the Republic attack puppet he was facing.
I made it clear that I would not support Lou Barletta because he helped breed hatred as he demonized undocumented immigrants and their children, making it easier for the redneck attack against overwhelmingly good, vulnerable people who came to America seeking the same dream that Bartletta’s immigrant relatives sought.
That upset Republicans but they still embraced my refusal to vote for Kanjorski. Democrats again abhorred me. But when I realized that Barletta might win and that he would be a horror in the House, I changed my mind. Democrats cheered. Republicans wanted me fired.
Putting aside some significant political differences with Kanjorski, I followed my conscience toward for the greater good. Kanjorski for Congress, I said. Barletta won.
Today Republicans loathe me again because I now pursue Marino and Barletta with an unrelenting zeal.
A stolen slot machine holds more integrity than Marino. And Barletta will dance to the anti-immigration militia music with a gusto that makes John Travolta’s fancy footwork in “Saturday Night Fever” look lame. Three rotten lemons leave a sour taste in my mouth. And the odds of liberty and justice for all staying alive in the 11th Congressional District seem less likely than ever before.
Hold all elected and appointed government officials accountable.
They work for us.
And we only have a chance as long as we make sure they don’t ever forget who’s the boss.