The Hightower Report

Congressional victims of alcoholism ... and hypocrisyitis

Right-wing political operatives deserve credit for their impressive inventiveness.

In particular, they have created the "Rob Defense" for public officials who get caught engaging in bad personal behavior, such as sexual misconduct, snorting cocaine, and bribery. When nabbed in an act of naughtiness, the standard defense thrown out by politicians of all stripes has been to blame "stress of overwork" and to apologize to "anyone who is offended" by their grossly offensive action.

But that excuse is overused, so advisers to right-wing bad boys have invented a new defense: Just claim to have been "in a drunken stupor" at the time. See, it really wasn't their fault – blame the booze! The Rob Defense is named for Rob Ford, the almost-comically offensive mayor of Toronto, who keeps explaining that his crack cocaine use, abusive rages, and other antics only happen when he's sozzled, totally blotto.

Recently, though, a Tea Party Congress critter from Florida added a clever refinement to the Rob. Arrested in November for buying cocaine in Washington, D.C., Rep. Trey Radel dolefully confided in a press release that, "I struggle with the disease of alcoholism." That's a shrewd touch, for you get extra public sympathy if you're a victim of disease.

But let's note that Trey also suffers from another disease he didn't mention: Political Hypo­crisy­itis. Barely a month earlier, Radel had joined his Republican colleagues to bash poor people by voting to require mandatory drug tests for all food stamp recipients. Did alcoholism make him do that, too?

The poverty program pays under $200 a month per person for a family of four, while Radel draws more than $14,000 a month from us taxpayers. If Congress really wants to kick drug abusers off the public dole, its best odds of finding some would be to start testing its own members.

For more information on Jim Hightower's work – and to subscribe to his award-winning monthly newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown – visit You can hear his radio commentaries on KOOP Radio, 91.7FM, weekdays at 10:58am and 12:58pm.
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