Sunday, February 19, 2006

Randy and Ralph
Looking at Josh Marshall's site last night, I found this sordid exposition on the sins of former Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham, Republican of California. Duke's deeds are pretty stomach-turning, from soliciting bribes to browbeating aides with overactive consciences. As a former war hero turned crooked pol, his is a pretty compelling fall-from-grace story, and a potential bonanza for Democratic candidates who will look to pin that story to the self-serving and shameless Republican House majority this fall.

But none of this jumped out at me immediately upon reading the TPM entry. No, what I saw was this:

"Having admitted unparalleled corruption, defendant Randall H. Cunningham now comes before the Court to be sentenced..."

Emphasis mine. Yes, the new poster boy for right-wing wrongdoing is a namesake of the man who was perhaps my last great sports hero. (And by the way, God bless the wikipedia author/s for noting the unmatched, indeed unmatchable greatness of "QB Eagles.") No idea how this had never previously struck me.

At the other end of the spectrum of right-wing vileness is Ralph Reed, former Christian Coalition leader, Republican consultant, and bosom chum of Jack Abramoff. Reed is currently running for the office of Georgia Lieutenant Governor, a position he seems to consider a steppingstone to a future presidential run. Reed's close and extended Abramoff ties already have done damage to his bid, and what might sink him altogether is The Book of Ralph--a short graphic biography highlighting various episodes in Reed's checkered career.

Reading "The Book of Ralph," it seems almost impossible that a lawsuit won't be forthcoming, but considering that all its quotes are taken directly from previously published media stories, from Reed's tearful denunciations after being exposed as a plagiarist in college more than 20 years ago, to his spokeswoman's statement two months back that she referred to her own vagina as "my big cavernous pit of love," I'm not sure there's grounds.

More broadly, if this gets big enough, I wonder if we're seeing the next stage in the evolution of political attacks. In 1999 or so, I had this idea for a satirical comic book titled "The Adventures of George W. Bush at Harvard Business School," but having neither art skills nor abundant free time back then, I did nothing with this notion. Could we have changed history? Guess we'll never know.

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