July, 2011

Wu Says He’ll Do
the Right Thing

Editorial Comments
by Deborah Steele Hazen

I spent Monday night writing a strongly-worded editorial calling for the immediate resignation of Congressman David Wu.

Tuesday morning The Chief received the press release from his office stating that he had made the decision to do the right thing and resign – after the “debt-ceiling crisis” is resolved.

This is the wording of the press release:

“Congressman David Wu issued the following statement of resignation from the United States House of Representatives:

“It has been the greatest privilege of my life to be a United States Congressman. Rare is the nation in which an immigrant child can become a national political figure. I thank God and my parents for the privilege of being an American.

“Now, however, the time has come to hand on the privilege of high office. I cannot care for my family the way I wish while serving in Congress and fighting these very serious allegations.

“The wellbeing of my children must come before anything else. With great sadness, I therefore intend to resign effective upon the resolution of the debt-ceiling crisis. This is the right decision for my family, the institution of the House, and my colleagues.

“It is also the only correct decision to avoid any distraction from the important work at hand in Washington. I intend to go forward with new resolve and love of family, the State of Oregon, and our nation.”

I don’t understand why Wu thinks he needs to stay until after the “debt-ceiling crisis” is resolved. In the Republican-controlled United States House of Representatives, his vote is not going to make a difference one way or the other. I hope he doesn’t have plans of somehow out-lasting the calls for his actual, official resignation.

His words of respect for the high office he has held for the past dozen years, and his expressions of concern for his family are appropriate.

But, the wording of his announcement contains absolutely no ownership, responsibility or sense of remorse for his despicable behavior, some of which cannot be denied, some of which I have personally witnessed – public drunkenness, anger and rudeness expressed towards constituents, misrepresentation of the facts – and some of which he previously has admitted, including using his office to get through security at the Portland airport and campaign at the gates, an act of sexual aggression against an ex-girlfriend in college, problems with alcohol and prescription drugs.

I suspect that the fact that on Monday U.S. House of Representatives minority leader Nancy Pelosi, for whom Wu has been a consistent vote, called for an ethics committee investigation into the most recent allegations of unwanted sexual aggression against an 18-year-old girl, had a lot to do with Tuesday morning’s announcement regarding his intention to resign.

While we’ll probably have to be content with just the resignation, the people of Oregon’s First Congressional District deserve an apology from Wu for his misconduct and his ineffectiveness that has spanned most, if not all, of his 12 1/2 years in Congress.

And, David Wu must become more humble and more honest with himself and his loved ones, in order to make the changes necessary to live a happy and healthy life, and be the father his children deserve.

But, the voters bear the responsibility of continuing to return this man to Congress despite the fact that at least some of his problems have been widely-recognized and publicized for at least the past four election cycles.

One caller to a radio talk show on Monday, prior to Wu’s resignation announcement, said she didn’t think he should resign – that the voters of Oregon’s First Congressional District who were stupid enough to re-elect him, ought to pay the price of having him stay in office until they get smart enough to fire him.

Well, how about the 40-something percentage of us who didn’t vote for him?

How about the good man, David Robinson, who ran against him in the 2010 primary election. Robinson shares Wu’s political agenda, but recognized his ineffectiveness and personality defects. He didn’t get the support he deserved from the Democratic party, who  – until this latest scandal – seemed determined to stick with the incumbent at any cost, regardless of his flaws.

Now What Happens

According to Oregon law, the governor calls for a special election to fill a vacant congressional seat.

Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber issued the following statement Tuesday afternoon:

“With Congressman Wu’s announcement this morning that he intends to reign after the debt-ceiling issue is resolved, many Oregonians – particularly those in the First Congressional District – want to know what will happen with his seat.

“I want a fair process that will include as many Ore-gonians as possible to ensure that the people in the First Congressional District have adequate representation in Washington, D.C. But to do that, I must first have Congressman Wu’s official resignation, which I have not yet received.

“Once that is in hand, I intend to call for a special election to elect a representative to Oregon’s First Congressional District, with sufficient time for the Secretary of State to call a special primary.”

The governor could call for an election within 80 days, with the major parties selecting the candidates. His intention to allow a primary first – providing for more involvement by the voters – is the better decision.

Yes, it will leave Northwest Oregon without a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, but we already have not had effective representation for some time.

We expect that U.S. Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley will make an effort to give a little extra attention to our region in the interim.

When the voters of the First Congressional District do have the opportunity to select a new representative in Congress, we certainly hope the majority will inform themselves about the candidates this time.

We hope they will devote considerable effort to study their political beliefs (and there are signficant differences even within the major parties) and their personal qualifications – their political record when applicable, and those parts of their resumés and biographical sketches that are revelatory of their characters and integrity (or the lack thereof.)

Voters shouldn’t just vote for the D or the R on the ballot, or the name that’s most familiar.

Do your homework and do the right thing – vote for the person who will best represent us!

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