A pass on prosecution can't be construed as vindication

Dear John:

We can appreciate the heartfelt relief you and Cylvia must feel, now that a three-year FBI investigation has concluded no one in the Kitzhaber household warrants criminal prosecution in federal court. But your “So I’m back!” declaration seems as delusional as the conduct you displayed during your full third term and abbreviated fourth as Oregon governor.

We recall muttering to ourselves, “What WAS he thinking?” as you let the raw ambition of second wife Cylvia Hayes turn the governor’s office into a hub of self-dealing. And we found ourselves muttering it anew earlier this week, upon discovering you remain afflicted with the very hubris that forced your ignominious resignation.

Love is blind, they say. And that seems particularly true when aging politicians becomes smitten with calculating charmers.

You note you’ve been maintaining a low profile these last three years, John, but tell us you feel free now to resume a robust public life. Sorry, but we have contrarian advice. We think it best not only for you, but also for the rest of us, if you kept on avoiding the brights lights and left the big stage to others.

Granted, Gov. Kate Brown appears timid, plodding and pedestrian by contrast. She lacks the vision and daring that marked your success.

But she’s in and you’re out. And when she’s out, you won’t return. Your day has passed.

Remember, the recently concluded investigation was launched by the state, not the feds. When the state bowed out, it did so on condition federal authorities make public their investigative file when their work was done.

Do you have any idea how much damning material a swarm of FBI agents can collect, given three years to mine a rich vein of unethical cornercutting? We’re expecting a veritable avalanche, and we don’t think it will portray either the brazenly conniving wife or the blindly enabling husband favorably.

We must admit, John, how the grand scale of cronyism, nepotism and aggrandizing Donald Trump has ushered into the White House makes your Mahonia Hall shenanigans pale by comparison. He’s created quite a quagmire.

But it took you five years and one re-election to soil the scene to the point where the public rose up in wrath. The unrelenting hubris of the man currently manning the helm in D.C. may well bring him equally low in time. It has a way of doing that to men blinded by ego, ambition and fortune.

Besides, this is Oregon, where we still have standards. We aren’t very accepting of those who dishonor high office, even if they do manage to escape criminal prosecution.

John, you might have imagined yourself remembered as the second coming of Tom McCall, champion of preserving the beaches, farms and forests Oregonians hold so dear. Alas, we fear you are going to be remembered more as the second coming of Neil Goldshmidt, whose legacy will never expunge the stain of long-hidden acts of child molestation.

We bid you adieu, but not au revoir.



Don Dix

If it has shed a bad light, politicians conveniently have no memory ... or conscience ... and the players each election cycle validate that claim.