Get well soon Charlie Wilson

A doctor at some point in time no doubt gave Charlie Wilson a choice of giving up wine, women or song upon which he must have given up singing. He may have even given up wine but it might not have been quite fast enough to keep him from needing a new heart.

Fortunately, for those who have long admired, discussed or even cussed the flamboyant former East Texas congressman, Wilson got that new heart this week after a transplant in a Houston hospital.

Most of the folks outside the area between Nacogdoches and Beaumont would not have heard of Charlie Wilson were it not for a best-selling book written about him a couple of years ago.

Since Tom Hanks will be playing Wilson in an upcoming movie based on “Charlie Wilson’s War” which will co-star Julia Roberts, it is likely the rest of America will find out a bit about the tall, roguish politician who represented East Texas in Congress for more than 25 years.

Wilson’s obscurity – he didn’t have a lot of bills named after him and in fact didn’t sponsor a whole lot of legislation to begin with – combined with his ability to wage a secret war against the Soviets in Afghanistan will be what becomes his eventual legacy on a national and even international scale.

But little, old blue-haired Baptist ladies and hard-working farmers from places like Corrigan and Goat Hill and Bleakwood didn’t keep sending Charlie Wilson back to Congress for more than two decades because he secretly led the Mujahideen against the Commies in Afghanistan. No, Charlie kept getting sent back from the Neches River to across the Potomac because he “took care of the home folks.”

In fancy governmental talk, that’s called “constituent services.” But Charlie and his campaign directors and ad folks pegged it as helping the people back home like the war veterans who waited 10 years for their nation to repay them in disability benefits for getting shot up in exotic places like Guadalcanal and the A Shau Valley.

Charlie wasn’t an angel in his congressional years. There was talk about his drinking and womanizing and check-kiting and even whispers about cocaine use. But the truth that really matters was that if you had a problem that Charlie Wilson and his wonderful bunch of worker bees in Washington, Lufkin, Orange or wherever his offices happened to be could solve then it was as good as done.

What a contrast between Charlie and the guy who is now my congressman. Ted Poe seems more interested in helping the home folks in El Paso or Tucson or on “Lou Dobb’s” CNN show.

It is just a wild guess, but I doubt if Ted Poe will ever be distinguished with much at all other than the publicity-seeking sentences he imposed as a district judge in Houston. I doubt he will ever have a best-selling book or a movie starring Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts made about him. Poe seems to be too busy taking care of the right-wing Republican base than to help with things like veterans disability or Social Security checks. Maybe that is good for an election but I just wonder how many elections down the road will his right-wing ass kissing get Poe?

Charlie Wilson may not live quite so large a life with his new heart that he had with the old. But at least his heart is in the right place. That’s more than I can say about a lot of the weasels these days who represent us in Congress.

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