Tuesday, November 29, 2005

An Ace Shoots Himself Down

This breaks my heart:
SAN DIEGO -- Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham resigned his office today after pleading guilty to fraud, conspiracy to commit bribery and tax evasion in a political corruption case.

U.S. District Judge Larry Burns accepted the pleas from Cunningham, 63, including the congressman's admission in federal court that he had accepted bribes in exchange for performance of his official duties
I remember, living in San Diego in the 90's, how greatly I admired Randy Cunningham. He was just breaking into national politics as a maverick. He wasn't perceived as part of the political machine -- he was a straight-shooting, take-no-prisoners, New-Sherrif-in-Town figure who revitalized the GOP in San Diego County.

And his initial claim to fame was even more admirable. He was the first US Navy fighter ace of the Viet Nam war, one of only Two US aces overall, and what's more, he acheived the most spectacular of feats -- he made Ace in one day. He was a key figure in the formation of the US Navy's Fighter Weapons School (Top Gun), and was an advisor on the movie of the same name. He was an active supporter of the military and of veterans.

Now, he's just another crooked politician. This, sadly, is the memory we'll have of him. Not of downing the PRV's top pilot, not of challenging the Status Quo of politics on the Left Coast, but of selling his vote to the guy with the nicest yacht.

I'm sorry, Randy, but even if you voted exactly as I would have on every issue that ever came up for a vote in Congress, it wouldn't excuse this behavior. I used to consider you a political hero, I used to think that if I lived in your district, I'd vote for you. No more. I remember hoping you'd win your first election, now I hope you go to jail.

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