Wednesday, November 09, 2005

DUI: Dangerous and Utterly Irresponsible

Republican Congressman Kevin Brady yesterday pleaded no contest to DUI charges in South Dakota, stemming from a traffic stop back in October.
Mr. Brady and his wife were attending a college homecoming at the University of South Dakota and had just left a dinner at which he received an Alumni Achievement Award.
Rep. Brady, whose congressional District 8 includes several counties ranging from just north of Houston east to the Louisiana border, received a rather light sentence from the South Dakota judge and was sent packing back to Texas.
He was fined $350 plus $53 in court costs and won't be allowed to drive in the state for 30 days – the judge's standard punishment for a first offender, said Clay County state's attorney Tami Bern.
"I was wrong, and I deeply apologize. This is an extremely important law. Perhaps others, especially young people, can learn from my mistake as I have," Mr. Brady said in a prepared statement.
As the Houston Comical reports, Rep. Brady was duly repentant:
"I never dreamed I would be in this situation," Brady said. "I really believe what I said: I have to take full responsibility for whatever are the consequences and go from there."
I guess the question is, what exactly is the scope of "full responsibility" for such a reckless and irresponsible act as this?

I am of the firm belief that the elected leaders of our country should be held to a much higher standard than most. And since Republicans hold forth to be the party of morals and ethics, my expectations of them are even higher. We elect men and women to lead our country based not only on their beliefs, but also (hopefully) on their proven qualities of leadership, which should include wisdom, judgment, and discrimination. (I'm not quite sure what this tells us about the good people of Massachusetts, but...) I for one expect them to show the good judgment and moral fortitude required to keep this nation great, not only in their political decisions but also in their everyday personal lives.

Mr. Brady had a serious lapse of judgment back on October 7 when he decided to get behind the wheel after drinking a little too much. We're not talking driving a few miles per hour over the speed limit on an otherwise empty road, or failing to come to a complete stop before slowly rolling through that four-way stop sign. This man endangered his own life and the lives of his family, as well as those of every other driver he encountered on those South Dakota roads that night. A very serious lack of judgment.

Yes, perhaps it was "just this once," and "no one got hurt." But what happens next time? And what if he were to apply that same logic in his political duties? Is the first time you take a bribe... er, "unreported campaign contribution" ... any better just because no one got hurt? What happens the next time? And the next?

So what should Mr. Brady do, now that he has "paid his debt to society" for his little indiscretion? I may stand alone in this -- at least among Republican supporters -- but I firmly believe he should resign. At the very least, no attempt at reelection when his term is up, but in all honesty he should step down. That is taking "full responsibility" for his actions. That is upholding the moral code that should be so engrained in our political leaders. That is what this Texas conservative would like to see.

Mr. Brady, you have taken the first step by admitting your sin, rather than denying or fighting the charges. Now be the leader you were elected to be, and remove yourself from this role of responsibility.

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