I was sitting on the couch when Murray, the world’s cutest dog (bar none), came and sat down next to me. It was Father’s Day so I was aware that I had to pay special attention to the little dog who, after our two grown kids, stands to inherit what we leave once we have departed. Murray tilted his head and said to me in English, which he learned at the Literacy Network of South Berkshire, “Pop, you’re a political scientist and a bit of health nut and, frankly, a hypochondriac, so I am really puzzled. We are all worried about ticks. I’ve had them, you’ve had them, and so I got to thinking about ticks and politicians. It seems to me they have a lot in common.”
“What do you mean, Murray?” I asked the little mass of muscle and hair.
“Well, Pops, you know how a tick leeches on to you and sucks your blood, right out of your body?”
“Yes, Murray,” I said.
“Politicians do the same thing, don’t they?”
“Oh, come on, Murray,” I said. “I know a lot of politicians who are really wonderful people.”
“Well, Pops, I don’t want to bite the hand that feeds me, but there really is more evidence that ticks and politicians share the same genome.”
“Like what, Murray?” I inquired.
“You know how when a tick bites you, you have to look for the bullseye around the bite? Well, my friend Inchy the dachshund from down the street says that politicians are always looking for the bullseye on the taxpayer’s back to figure out how much more they can squeeze out of the poor suckers for themselves. Not only that, some of them, like Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey and some of Andrew Cuomo’s friends, are pretty good proof of how unethical these folks are.”
“Now Murray, think of all the good people who work so hard for their constituents.”
“Name one, Pops.”
“Okay, how about New York Assemblyman Richard Gottfried who is trying to institute a universal health care plan for New York State? Right?”
“Okay, I’ll give you that but we all know from polling that these good people are the exception to the rule. In fact, all kinds of polling says that while people like their own representatives, they would vote for term limits in a New York minute.”
“But that doesn’t mean that these are all venal, mean spirited people. It just means (reaching down into my best argument) that they are just like you or me, looking for job security. I mean just look at those judges who seem to hang around forever.”
“No, but Pops, don’t you see? They are like ticks because once they get onto you they are almost impossible to get rid of. Not only that, look at how many of them get carted off to jail for one crime or another. Those ticks carry all kinds of diseases, some of which are actually lethal. That’s pretty scary.”
I was losing patience with the little dog. I told him, “Look, Murray, you can’t hold all of them accountable for what a few do, right?”
“Yes, Pops, you can because they vote for their leaders who do their dirty work for them. I mean, who do they think they are fooling? I just read in the New York Times that it took eight years for the Senate Ethics Committee to hold a meeting. I mean eight years, Pops, eight years, (his voice turning into a growl.) Don’t you see that such skullduggery wouldn’t be happening unless the rank-and-file in the Senate went along with it? Don’t you get it, Pops? Where are all the good people you are talking about in both political parties to blow the whistle?”
“Oh Murray,” I said to him, “you’re just a dog. What do you know about all of this?”