Thursday, May 1, 2008

Bagging Carpet Bagging Critics

The form of this "parable" changes depending on who tells it, but here's the jist:

A man approaches a woman in a bar and asks if she would sleep with him for a million dollars. The woman says, "Prove you have the money." He pulls out a bank statement, his driver's license, and his credit cards to verify his funds and identity. He also shows her a million dollar money order that is blank in the "pay to" line. The woman agrees. But then the man suddenly says, "Will you sleep with me for $1?" The woman bellows indignantly, "What do you think I am? A prositute?!?!" The man replies, "We've already established that, now we're just negotiating over price."

Put aside that this story inspired a bad Demi Moore movie and instead focus on the point that if you accept something under any circumstances, you can't REALLY be against it, can you?

There may be a lot of valid criticisms of Woody Myers, but I've never been real impressed when people say someone is a "carpet bagger." This claim swirls around Myers, who until quite recently lived in (collective gasp) CALIFORNIA! This alleged Hoosier fear of all things California is intriguing to me. I haven't heard any Hoosier say this, but apparently many believe we all think every Californian is either a gay director of porn, a designer of violent videogames, a producer of mysogynistic and homophobic rap songs, or an Austrian womanizer turned Terminator, turned Kennedy-lover. I mean, how conflicted must THAT Californian be?

Don't get me wrong. It's GREAT politics to gun somebody down for not living where they run. BUT how many of you Myers' critics were as vocal when Hillary Clinton ran in a state in which she had NEVER lived. EVER. I'm an Obama guy, and I still recognize that Hillary Clinton is a GREAT senator for New York, even though she wasn't raised on Yankees and bagels.

At least Dr. Myers spent the majority of his years here before moving to New York, Michigan, and California, before moving back here to, admittedly, capitalize on an open congressional seat.

You know who else was accused of carpet bagging? Evan Bayh. He had lived in Washington so long before he ran for statewide office that he had to face a residency challenge from Republicans. I don't remember hearing Democrats gripe about Bayh being a carpet-bagger simply because he'd moved away from Indiana before returning to run for office.

Also, I know that if Bill Clinton, for some crazy reason, had wanted to run for the 7th District of Indiana and had moved here in time to be eligible, I promise you, I would have voted for him above ANYBODY currently running. Clinton's not your cigar? How about Oprah?

My point is that with politicians, as well as with businesses, you "hire" the best talent available to fill the job. Here's something you will NEVER hear at an Eli Lilly board meeting: "Hey, Bill Gates called today and said he wants to work for us, but we can't hire him. He's from Seattle."

And that's how I know this "carpet bagger" criticism is hypocritical. I would wager all the money in my wallet right now that critics attacking Woody for his California Dreamin' knows there is a person they admire enough that they would vote for him/her, even if that candidate had never lived here. It might be Joel Olsteen, Peyton Manning, Charlie Rangel, Jeff Gordon, or Rachel Ray. But the fact you would (if put on a polygraph or with your hand on a Bible, Koran, Constitution, etc.) say, "Yeah, I probably would vote for that person," means that you're negotiating over price.

What you are REALLY saying is NOT that I am against carpet bagging; it's that I'm against it when it's done by a guy I don't care for too much. Sorry, but you're not fooling anybody.

(For the record, I have a $10 bill, a drycleaning receipt, and a Walmart gift card with $8.63 left on it in my wallet right now. But that doesn't mean I'm not certain on this hypocrisy.)



Anonymous said...

I think it is an issue of just how in touch with the needs of the community can Woody be? He has lived in California for the majority of the past decade. His wife still lives here. He moves back to a $2.1 Million, tax abated condo on top of the Conrad. Dumps almost $2 Million in cash on a campaign to buy great ads and drive neat SUV's...but has no real ties to the community. The reality is: HE IS TRYING TO BUY A SEAT IN CONGRESS.

varangianguard said...

And Senator Clinton didn't, anon?

IPOPA, you forgot the Kennedy clan. There's a carpet bag full of relatives who moved to gain office. After all, just how many "good" elective offices can be made up in Massachusetts anyway?

Anonymous said...

Actually, I don't like it that Clinton ran in New York without living there, but we're not in New York. We're talking about the INDIANA 7th, correct?

Anonymous said...

Not to mention how Woody made the money in the first place...

varangianguard said...

As a purely philosophical exercise, let's discuss being "in touch" with one's constituency.

I would opine that any person capable of winning a Congressional seat to be apart from the average constituent in his or her district, economically, culturally, and socially. No matter whether one is talking about any of the 7th CD frontrunners, Rep. Carson, Rep. Mays, Dr. Myers or Dr. Orentlicher, I could easily argue that none of them could really be classified as "just plain folk".

How often does the average citizen win a Congressional seat in the US? I would posit the percentage to be statistically insignificant. Look at the 7th CD primary candidates. The closest people to being average citizens aren't even close to realizing any significant support and have even been excluded from most of the candidate forums lately. In a fair world, they too would get their day in the sun. They don't.

The needs of the community. What are the needs of the community? Maybe affordable health care is the main national issue in the 7th CD. It surely isn't President Bush's war in Iraq. Yet I've heard that from at least two of the candidates. Both are playing a disengenuous game of negative association. Citizens don't approve of President Bush, candidate claims that they can fix President Bush's mess. Incredible. Freshman Congressperson mandates world peace. Rogue states beg forgiveness. Uh-huh.

Buying a seat in Congress? There doesn't really seem to be any other way right now. Most just argue about who is paying the check. For the supporter of one candidate to decry how another candidate has raised money is hypocrisy at its worst.

How a candidate made their fortune. For an average citizen, that may well be a valid issue. But, people who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. Neither should their supporters. It makes your candidate look bad. If you don't mind, OK. But, others might not care for one supporter to drag their shared candidate down into the muck. Bad for morale, eh wot?

artfuggins said...

What if the sealed criminal indictments against the Wellpoint executives includes Woody Myers? Does that mean if they are unsealed ths summer and he is the nominee that the republicans will get the congressional seat automatically. I am not ready to let the GOP have the 7th District.