Some time ago I took it upon myself to announce on my radio show that I was hereby banning Vice President Joe Biden from his Scranton hometown, the hard coal haven Biden left at age 10 but that he continues to use and abuse whenever the need arises to try to ingratiate himself to America’s working-class voters.
I had had enough of Biden’s blatant manipulation of good people who too often croon and swoon whenever Biden goes into his scrappy kid from Scranton routine. To this, day President Barack Obama continues to enable his sappy sidekick in their attempts to win votes from people whose struggle to make ends meet continues through thick and thin.
What put me over the top was when Biden refused to apologize for telling the world that he had relatives who worked in the Northeastern Pennsylvania coal mines. During the 2008 campaign I tried my best to get specifics about the claim because maybe Biden was telling the truth. After repeated attempts to get details, the state communications director for the Obama/Biden campaign finally told me that Biden had misspoken. That’s what your defense lawyer tells the judge at your guilty plea. But most admitted criminals fess up when they face the music and vow to sin no more.
Biden just kept smiling. No apology came my way. So I banned Biden from my radio show.
Of course, the ban on his homecoming was non-biding. I lacked the official power to keep him from stalking the streets where I live – a truly sacred place where my grandfather emigrated from Ireland to mine coal for 45 years and where I have five generations of family, the place where I chose to move when I left California and could have moved elsewhere.
Many people with Scranton roots have family who worked in the mines. Too many of their beloved family members died laboring in those black hell holes. Too many came up maimed. Too many died choking for air because their lungs had turned black from toxic coal dust – including my grandfather.
My father and some of his brothers briefly dug coal and worked underground in uninspected mines, risking their lives to help their family and their nation. We whose roots go into the coal mines wear that struggle proudly. We don’t take kindly to imposters. For better or for worse, we carry a grudge.
Now, three weeks from Election Day, it looks like Biden has abandoned Scranton once again. Not that I’m sorry to see him go, but serious principle is involved here. Although Biden still uses us to try to get him and his boss re-elected, Biden and Barack are not expected to campaign here before the election. They apparently believe that we Scrantonians are gullible enough to automatically vote for them.
Maybe some are, but that’s not the Scranton spirit that I love.
I love the real scrappy Scranton.
Not only will I not vote for this duo, with three weeks to go until the election, I’m two weeks from banning Barack from my radio show. I’m a leftist FDR Irish-American “ourselves alone” Democrat, by the way, and Barack has not even come close to persuading me to vote for him. If he doesn’t come here and ask for my vote, he loses my vote, something too precious to just give away. Like the underground miner in Scranton, those days are gone.
The Republican ticket, which has more in common with the Manson family than most Scranton families, won’t get my vote, either.
I might write in John Mitchell, the late, great champion of labor and defender of human rights whose statue stands usually ignored on Courthouse Square.
Pennsylvania might no longer be a swing state and Northeastern Pennsylvania the pulse by which White House life is gauged, but we’re a bristling battleground even in off-election years. Our fight continues no matter who’s elected. Decade after decade, good citizens in hard coal country battle political corruption, patronage, nepotism and worse that continues year after year as our elected and appointed political and business leaders go to prison for pillaging the public trust.
And some of them did have relatives who worked in the mines.
Biden called my show back in 2007, I believe, when few people took him seriously for higher office and he was trying to sell his autobiography at a Scranton book signing. Biden even lied during that interview, telling me that he listens to my show whenever he gets time in his Senate office. I had no doubt that until we spoke on the air, Biden had never heard of me in his life.
Barack called my show in 2008. We talked about whether he had transcended race and got off cigarettes. I had seven whole minutes with the man who would be president.
So here’s the deal: Barack has two weeks to call my show and ask me and my neighbors for our votes. He still might not get them but the call will show that he cares enough to ask. Take us for granted, though, and Barack’s looking just like Biden. Considering the president’s first debate performance, he might crave the comparison.
If Barack fails to make the call, I’m banning him from the show for all time. Then he and that crappy kid from Scranton can spend the whole week before the election with the whole world knowing that Scranton called them out then cast them out, exiling them from the Scranton airwaves because they’re simply not up to the job or the expectations of hardcore Scranton voters.
You want to carry that burden around for the rest of your life, Barack?
Never forget that Scranton isn’t Chicago.
We’re scrappier than your town and Biden’s fantasyland put together.