My Turn: Doolittle and the circling vultures
The Doolittle saga gets stranger each day. Now, according to the congressman, it is not only the Democrats harassing him but it is also the Bush Administration, and, particularly, Republican Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.
Gonzales, according to the increasingly paranoid Mr. Doolittle, was the moving force behind the recent, nationally noted FBI search of the congressman’s home in Virginia.
I don’t for a moment believe his theory that the Attorney General hopes to prove his non-partisanship by seeking to investigate a Republican congressman who is suspected of committing felonies. But I do wish the FBI and the Attorney General success in that effort if, indeed, they too are enlisted in the meritorious campaign to remove Mr. Doolittle from office.
Yet another strange twist to this disturbing story occurred this past week when Mr. Doolittle appeared as a guest on the talk show of his favorite host, the conservative Tom Sullivan, also known as Rush Limbaugh “light,” in certain intellectual circles.
Sullivan has long been a key backer of Doolittle and since this troubling story began, Sullivan has defended his friend without the slightest reservations as to his limited moral integrity.
In the face of the recent sordid details of the Doolittle-Abramoff scandal, however, Sullivan’s irrational defense of Mr. Doolittle is beginning to show some cracks of doubt, or, perhaps, more accurately, of opportunity, on the part of Mr. Sullivan.
There has been a growing question as to whether the congressman, given the extreme nature of his present legal problems, will run again. That concern is mostly voiced by Republicans who are understandably worried that Doolittle would be trounced if he had again to face the retired Air Force Lt. Colonel Charlie Brown, who came within a heartbeat of throwing Mr. Doolittle out of office in his last election.
Sullivan has all but announced his own candidacy for the seat Mr. Doolittle now holds. He stated on his program that the congressman’s likelihood for re-election has weakened these past weeks and that by February he expects Doolittle to announce his intentions as to whether he would resign so that a special election can be held or whether he would serve out the 17 months remaining in his term but not seek re-election.
In either case, the dreaded prospect of having Mr. Doolittle’s name on the ballot would have been ended. At that time, Sullivan would announce his own intention as to running.
But, beyond comprehension, was Sullivan’s statement to the Bee the day after his interview of Doolittle, that he and other Republicans who are considering the Republican nomination, are acting like vultures. His exact words to the Bee were, “The vultures are circling. They are all over the place.”
Later in that Bee story, Sullivan clarifies his role. “A number of Republicans are eying Doolittle’s seat (clearly, vultures) and I am among them.”
So this apparently good friend of the stricken and dazed congressman is now among the Republicans vultures hoping Doolittle will resign or announce his intention not to run for office at the end of his term. And, I suppose a few of the vultures might even be hoping he would be indicted, assuring his removal from office.
Politics often becomes a rough and tumble, body contact sport. But, even though I have seen a lot of that coarse side of politics, I have never heard a prospective candidate describe his party’s candidates as a bunch of vultures. Though, I suppose one could argue that such a candidate is being honest and in Sullivan’s case he knows his former Republican friends better than I do.
Sullivan’s choice of the name, vultures, for those professing an interest in replacing the congressman, suggests a rather dismal description of his professed friend Doolittle’s present state. Vultures circle around dead meat. Sullivan, obviously, suggests that a number of prominent Republicans, including himself, see Doolittle as dead meat.
I think that is a harsh description of a friend and that Mr. Sullivan should have been more circumspect. But I also believe it to be a fairly accurate picture of where Mr. Doolittle now is politically.
I look forward to the Republican party primary when the vultures take each other on and, in the process, try to dance carefully around the damaged incumbent congressman Doolittle. That will be an act to behold.
Charlie Brown must be very pleased with the apparent disarray in Republican circles.
Jerome R. Waldie is a retried U.S. Congressman and a Tahoe Regional Planning Agency governor.
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