Richard Nixon is remembered today largely for all the bad things he did while President. He lied, engaged in a massive cover-up of criminal activities, obstructed justice, bugged even himself – you name it.
In the end he resigned.
Todd Courser did the same 10 days ago, so that he wouldn’t be thrown out of the Michigan Legislature, as Cindy Gamrat in fact was.
But occasionally, even Nixon showed signs of caring about something larger than himself.
When he lost an extremely close presidential election to John F. Kennedy in 1960, he was urged by many people, including then-President Eisenhower, to seek recounts in two key states, Illinois and Texas, where there were reports of massive voting irregularities.
Had Nixon carried those states, he would have been President, but he said the country would have been torn apart by a disputed election, and he declined to challenge the result.
Courser and Gamrat have no such qualms. For them, everything is all about themselves.
Incredibly, both are now attempting to run in the special election called to replace them in the state House of Representatives. There’s a real question as to whether Gamrat is even eligible, and it is far from clear that the House would agree to seat either if they were elected.
Quite apart from their well-known shenanigans, they have already cost the taxpayers much wasted time and thousands of dollars. They have cost taxpayers even more by having forced two special elections in each district.
But beyond that, here’s the real damage they’ve done.
Lawmakers have been working diligently and desperately to try and get an agreement to fix the roads. The Courser-Gamrat saga has been a major distraction from that. The news media, probably including me, have also been somewhat to blame. The attention we’ve paid to the bad behavior and posturing of these two has sucked up all the air in the room, distracting the public from paying attention to anything else.
Last week, Off the Record, the only public affairs TV show that focuses on state government, had as its guest once again Todd Courser, who made it clear that he is reveling in all this, like any other emotional four year old would do. One of the very first things he said was “this is my first worldwide sex scandal and cover-up.”
It wasn’t clear if he was trying to be funny.
However, this does show that he is guilty of megalomania way beyond the norm. I doubt if anyone in London, Paris or Los Angeles has even heard of the tawdry misbehaviors of a couple obscure Michigan lawmakers, and I’d be astonished if anyone outside this state cares. Almost nobody thinks they are fit for office.
Their own voters are very likely to tell them so November 3rd. Until then, I hope this is the last thing I have to write about them, and I hope the media ignores both Courser and Gamrat, insofar as possible.
This state has real issues and real problems and some elected representatives who are trying very hard to deal with them, and improve our state. We owe it to ourselves to leave the circus, and write and talk more about things that really matter instead.
Jack Lessenberry is Michigan Radio's political analyst. Views expressed in his essays are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of Michigan Radio, its management or the station licensee, The University of Michigan.