Duke Cunningham - The Traitor Almost Ruined My Thanksgiving
11-23-2007 10:58 am
Thanksgiving provides each of us with an opportunity to reflect on our lives, and give thanks to the Lord for all of the things that he does for each of us, and for everything. It's a great opportunity to spend time with our families, and to give thanks to them for the support they give to us. It is also an opportunity to be a bit reflective on our lives, and on those things that are important. But I won't wax on, as this is not a "Thanksgiving Day Message" from the FlashReport. But it was this general Thanksgiving "happy and appreciate state of mind" that was interrupted yesterday for some time by disgraced, imprisoned former Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham.
I am not sure what it was that caused me to think about Duke yesterday. Perhaps the ongoing string of articles that appear in the San Diego U-T and the North County Times as they track the trials of those involved with Duke's dastardly deeds. Then again, maybe when you are thinking about your family and close friends, it also allows you to think about those friends who have really hurt you... Whatever the reason, "Duke" was a very unwelcome turkey in my Thanksgiving thoughts.
In contemplating what Cunningham did, even on a peaceful holiday with festive music, good food, and surrounded by family, my blood pressure started to rise. I realized one thing immediately. I will NEVER be able to forgive that scumbag for what he did to our country. In placing our government up for "sale" like that, I place the name of Duke Cunningham alongside those of Alger Hiss, Aldrich Ames, Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, etcetera. Which is to say that Cunningham's crimes were such a violation of the trust that was given to him by the American people that he committed, in my mind, treason against the United States of America. What he did when he "sold" our government for personal gain was so offensive, and so egregious that his prison sentence seems extraordinarily inadequate.
Obviously, given that the penalty for treason in America is still the death penalty, I had to ask myself this question -- would I have wanted Randy Cunningham to be sentenced to die for his crimes against this country? To be honest with you, I don't know the answer to that. There have certainly been a lot of times when my anger for his transgressions have made me wish that were a sentencing option - truly.
I remember reading that one of Cunningham's former colleagues, a Member of Congress whom I hold in high regard, actually sent a letter to the judge, requesting leniency in Cunningham's sentence. If I recall correctly, this Congressman said that his sentence should be, "balanced with his long and distinguished service record."
That is ludicrous. That is like saying that infamous traitor Aldrich Ames, who as a CIA operative sold secrets to the Soviets, should have had considered as a 'mitigating factor' the 30+ years of "service" he gave to the CIA before he was caught. After all, he wasn't a spy his whole career, right?
Duke Cunningham's "service" to our country before he committed the unspeakable act of using his high office to sell out America for personal gain actually makes his crimes worse. It means that he had every opportunity possible to appreciate what this country stands for, and still...
While I probably would lean against applying the death penalty for Cunningham, I sure wish that he could spend the rest of his natural life behind bars. That is certainly what he deserves for the damage he did to our country and to the institution of the United States Congress. Of course, as an elected officer of the California Republican Party, I can tell you that his betrayal of our political party was profound.
I will make it a point this holiday season to send a note to Cunningham, in federal prison, and make sure that he understands that there are some acts that are so unconscionable so as to exempt the actor from receiving any forgiveness or sympathy.
Duke Cunningham may not be in prison for life. But he deserves to be scorned to the end of his days.
I think back to the precinct walks and phone banks for "Duke" -- how we all worked so hard in that first election that he won for that U.S. House seat. Then I fast-forward to today. That mental journey is a painful one.
Mr. Cunningham, as you sit in your cell, and contemplate your crimes against the United States of America, I hope that you understand that you got off way too easy. But many of us know it, and will never, ever forgot the depth of your treason to this country.
For now, I will try to enjoy the rest of my holiday weekend, this column have been a catharsis to get some of this 'angst' out of my system.
[If anyone knows the address for Cunningham, I would love to print this column and mail it to him. Please send it my way - thanks.]
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