Editorial Published in London Sentinel-Echo 8/25/03
Only one mystery remains
“Daniel Boone was a man, what a big man…,” went the song that introduced the successful television show and popularized the coonskin cap. “Hal Rogers was a man, what a big man.” The latter version is inaccurate because the symbolic meaning of the lyrics cannot be applied to Hal Rogers.
Consequently, only one mystery remains about the travesty of reverence and common sense that resulted in the removal of Daniel Boone’s name from the Parkway. How did Hal Rogers lift his big head up on that bulldozer, a crane perhaps? That will remain a puzzle, but the travesty itself poses no such problem. The vast majority of today’s politicians are constantly pursued by groupie-like people eager to curry favor, to make Brownie points. Unfortunately, their sycophantic, brown-nosing behavior is effective, often to the detriment of the average American.
Hal Rogers has been well paid for his service to Eastern Kentucky, not to mention the fancy, unnecessary perks that cost taxpayers millions of dollars each year, the health and pension plans that the average taxpayer can only dream about but never hope to achieve, thanks to self-serving politicians.
There are some people, particularly those in the groupie category, who will defend Rogers, citing all the wonderful things he has done for Eastern Kentucky. I would remind them that Rogers would probably grade no better than average when compared with the other representatives in Congress with equivalent seniority.
For example, take our $13 million that he single-handedly appropriated for the long-overdue purpose of removing the tollbooths. Make no mistake, while he was up on that bulldozer, $13 million were spent in eastern Texas, eastern California, eastern Washington, eastern Minnesota, eastern Maine, eastern Florida, eastern here, and eastern there. Get the picture?
“You vote for my project and I’ll vote for yours.” It all boils down to swap-outs and trade-offs. The truth is, the vast majority of politicians walk in lockstep; thus creating a stupid, close-minded arrogance that promotes mediocrity and limits them to photo-ops and throwing their constituents an occasional crumb, just enough of a crumb to stave off starvation. And for that, they get highways named after them.
Once upon a time, my job responsibilities too me to Washington three or four times a year to provide testimony to congressional committees, work with counterparts from other states, etc. I recall talking to a Representative, from another state, at the close of that fictional show on C-SPAN that our politicians pass off as debate. The hot item of business that day was the Omnibus Communications Bill.
To refresh your memory, among other things that bill was supposed to reduce our cable television fees. What a joke! The Representative told me that the telephone calls and letters coming into his office were 7-1 against the bill. “I’m going to vote for it anyway,” he said. I was in no way surprised to hear that he was going to vote in lockstep, but I was surprised that he had admitted that to me. I figured he had either suffered a momentary loss of memory or he was feeling guilty about not doing the job that the voters in his district had elected him to do. He had to tell someone, and I was handy.
I could present many other salient examples of the same conduct, but they would serve no worthwhile purpose here.
Given the way Daniel Boone was removed from the Parkway, it is easy for me to imagine that a man of his caliber would not want his name associated with that Parkway any longer. I can see him respectfully declining the honor, and I would not blame him. The honor has now been watered down to nothing more than a warm fuzzy, a convenient way of scoring Brownie points. If that groupie bunch wanted to show their appreciation, they should have given Hal Rogers a teddy bear. It would have more accurately represented his contribution to the removal of the tollbooths.
Yes, indeed, Daniel Boone was a big man, the foster son of Chief Blackfish who adopted him for his bravery, and a man who blazed a trail through the Cumberland Gap and established a settlement in Kentucky when our state was truly “a dark and bloody ground.” Compare that with the swirling hot tubs, the warm spas, and the stimulating massages that the pampered, over-perked members of the U.S. Congress must endure every day, then you can fairly judge the contributions of the two men in question.
And what about the final resting place of Daniel Boone? What a smack in the face. He lays within yelling distance of that political circus that takes place in Frankfort. I would guess he spends a lot of nights tossing and turning, especially when the legislators come to town, and now they come to town once a year. Lord, help us all. Have you noticed the horizon lately? The dark storm clouds of additional taxation are gathering there.
At the minimum, Daniel Boone should have been treated with the same deference as Buffalo Bill, whose only contribution to the West was the fact that he was a crack shot with a rifle. To get to his final resting place, you must follow a winding, picturesque road up to a mountain-top park, which features picnic tables, a museum, a gift show, a wonderful view, and the grave of Buffalo Bill.
It would be so right if Daniel Boone was moved to the hilltop in Cumberland Gap that overlooks the Station Camp Creek area. If Hal Rogers is only half the legislator that his groupie bunch would have us believe, he should be able to pull that off with a single snap of his fingers. Consider what that would mean to Daniel Boone, Mr. Rogers, and also think about all those additional jobs that would be created. You might even get to cut another ribbon.
Until big money stops flowing into politics, the laws that come out of Washington will continue to offend our common sense and reduce our net worth directly and indirectly. If by some trail-blazing miracle the money stopped someday, that would enable some real Daniel Boones to make their way into the U.S. Congress.
Looking back over the years, I don’t know why I was ever surprised or disillusioned as I watched my heroes cut down, one by one; as I watched my idealistic bubbles busted, one by one. I should have anticipated those events, for I have known since childhood that Judas Iscariot sold out a Good Man for 30 pieces of sliver. The vast majority of politicians are doing the same thing this day, selling out good people. And in the process, another one of our true heroes has been blindsided with a cheap, irreverent punch.”
Editorial Published in London Sentinel-Echo 8/25/03