Monday, July 25, 2011

Woo Woo

Our local seven-term Democratic congressman, David Wu, the first Chinese-American elected to the House–i.e. he was born in China but raised here–is in the middle of yet another scandal. 

I think it's the third, if anybody is keeping count. 

The congressman's ship sprang a leak a while back when it was discovered that during some unhappy personal times, including a divorce and his father's death, he started sending out weird emails, including one of him in a tiger costume; he called people Klingons during speeches on the House floor; and admits to taking painkilling drugs (oxycodone) given to him by a supporter, to self-medicate his condition, whatever that was. Plus some other inappropriate public antics that would seem to be the product of a chemically-altered consciousness.

A block of his staff quit, en masse, just after his reëlection, and some stories started getting bandied about.

That got spun pretty good, he apologized, but it was enough to get him a couple of primary opponents for the next election. And when the latest revelation appeared, that he hit on the daughter of an old friend, and the young woman said it was an unwanted sexual advance, the nail was poised to shut his coffin. Or as a local Democratic official, Mitch Greenlick, said, "He's dead meat."

Wu was not exactly a dynamo in creating meaningful legislation, and his record seemed to be go-along-get-along. You see the terms "scant," or "thin." He showed up and voted, a 62% progressive voter, but offhand, I can't remember any legislation of note that he got passed.

People running against him in the next primary must have thought they'd discovered a bottle with a genie in it when this hit the front page. Hoo, boy! Thank you, Lord!

The young woman in question appears to have been of legal age–she graduated from high school in 2010, and so she'd likely have been eighteen when the alleged incident took place, last November.

Wu admits there was an encounter, though he says it was consensual.

She said, he said.

If the girl was a willing participant, then there's nothing illegal about it, albeit perhaps wasn't the wisest move for a 55-year-0ld sitting congressman to be hitting on an old high school friend's kid. 

(Portland's mayor, Sam Adams, was involved in a similar event that came to light after he was elected, and his partner was either just this side or that of legal age when it happened, depending on which story you believe. Sam lied about the affair, and has had to spend a fair amount of time apologizing for that. Come his reëlection campaign, I expect we'll get to hear all about it all over again.) 

If the sexual encounter by the congressman wasn't consensual, that's a felony of a different color, of course, though proof is unlikely.

The as-yet unidentified young woman–though I'm sure that will come to light soon–didn't call the law at the time. Her stance apparently was, Who'd believe me? He's a seven-time congressman and I just got out of high school, and it would be my word against his. 

It only came to light because Wu's staff heard an unhappy phone message the woman left for him, and because somebody asked them questions. 

Part of the problem for Wu is that old power-wielder's Achilles heel: Arrogance. 

Some time back, Wu decided that he didn't like the local paper's coverage of what he did, so he elected to avoid speaking to them. Disrespect me? Well, that for you, I don't talk to you, any more, Big O!

No law against that, but if you are a public official, it is always a risky idea to piss in the direction of the people who buy ink by the boxcar. The Oregonian's reporters didn't much care for being shut out, and so they did what reporters do when somebody throws up a fence and says, "Fuck you!" 

They started digging.

And lo! they found all kinds of dirt. 

Laughing last counts for a lot.

Wu says he didn't do anything worthy of being forced to resign, but he's already allowed as how he won't be running for another term. 

That certainly tells you something ...

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