Why Congressman Cardoza Stiffed Michelle Obama

Congressman Dennis Cardoza. D-18th CA, was able to suppress for two weeks the story of his personal reasons for not attending Michelle Obama’s commencement at UC Merced, a new campus he did a great deal to bring to his district.

Although covering San Joaquin Valley politics has sharpened our satiric senses, we could not even have imagined this one. Cardoza was at Pimlico for the Preakness, hosting fat cat contributors to something he calls the “Moderate Victory Fund,” a Blue Dog Democrat front. The top five contributors in 2008 at this annual event were the American Bankers Association, the Blue Dog PAC, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, the National Thoroughbred Racing Association and the National Association of Realtors.

Cardoza and the fat cats enjoyed sipping juleps in a luxury box and watching Calvin Borel boot home another one, a front-running filly this time. In addition to claiming he didn’t know how much the fund-raiser raised, Cardoza doubtless claimed not to know how much money he and the fat cats won and lost on the Preakness and the rest of the card that day.

But, that’s our boy. He loves the fast company. Michelle Obama endured 106-degree heat to deliver an inspiring speech to the graduating class at UC Merced, mostly first-generation college students who seemed to understand and appreciate the speech, not just The Presence.

Pimlico is reported to be a failing racetrack that loses money regularly except on Preakness Day. Perhaps that explains the thoroughbred industry’s support for the fundraiser. Or is its support related to the persistent rumor that Cardoza bets heavily and compulsively on the ponies? It would seem that any local Democrat, registered to vote and able to walk and chew gum at the same time, could beat this bum simply by proclaiming his support for the president and for the 18th Congressional District of California. However, finding such a candidate in a district stupid enough to give Cardoza a free ride when real estate values were in a free fall might be a challenge. We aren’t always so good at connecting dots because most of the time, the picture made is ugly. And we are Californians, too. In our hearts, we all live in Santa Monica and each purple Jacaranda petal falls for us, too.

In the Fresno Bee, Jim Boren opines that the problem with the Valley is that its representatives don’t have any clout in House Democratic leadership circles. It’s a good thing for the nation that they don’t, a fact possibly not utterly lost on Democratic Party leadership circles. Cardoza and his former dancing partner, Richard Pombo, tried to gut the Endangered Species Act three times for the benefit of finance, insurance and real estate interests in their own adjoining districts, now suffering among the worst foreclosure rates in the nation. Cardoza assisted in the looting of the 18th CD for his own social, political and economic gain. Presumably, at least some senior members of the California congressional delegation know that and prefer not to elevate him. Costa, Cardoza’s new dancing partner, has been raving on behalf of the Westlands Water District and state water contractors in the south San Joaquin Valley.

For a guy who’s always claimed a deep knowledge of water politics to back this dog is ludicrous. He wants to invite the Obamas to the west side? For what, another rent-a-farmworker rally? All the Westlands massive campaign to suspend the Endangered Species Act to allow more Delta pumping is proving is the incredible amount of wealth west side farmers have made on federally subsidized water, now purchasing the best propaganda and political clout money can buy.

The House Democratic leadership probably has what we now call the Costoza right where it want it, feeding off the bottom of the pond, occasionally surfacing to disgorge a bag or two of agribusiness cash at appropriate moments, then sinking quietly back into the slime.

The “Moderate Victory Fund” is nothing more than a front for the Blue Dogs, a group of deeply frightened Democrats from largely rural districts when Republicans took the House in 1995. The Blue Dogs looked into their crystal balls and saw their gravy train sidetracked by millennial fascist hysteria and hopped into an empty boxcar on the Newt Ball Express.

Cardoza’s actions look even stupider than they did before we knew the “reason” he couldn’t attend Mrs. Obama’s speech at the UC Merced commencement. He not only insulted the president’s wife. He did it to raise money for a bloc of knuckleheads like himself, stuffed very deeply in the pockets of special interests that don’t give a damn about this district or any other in the nation that they have looted to the point the peasants have no more to give the lords. And this bloc will vote against the president whenever it figure they can get away with stabbing him in the back. Although all these numbnuts know of politics on their best days is when to sell what to which fat cat, they call their reasoning process “balance,” “moderation,” “leadership,” and “realism.” This pleasant myth is as comforting to Blue Dogs as a blanket is to a baby or a stick to a boy.

We are indebted to McClatchy Washington reporter, Mike Doyle for the story. The aroma surrounding it is from one of two things: the scent of burning access bridges; or the odor of suppression through a news cycle. But, now that the story is finally out, it raises speculation into the reasons behind Mrs. Obama’s acceptance of the invitation to the UC Merced commencement. It is reasonable to assume that Obama’s team was aware of the Blue Dog fundraiser. It has been held at the Preakness for several years. It’s no secret. Another factor was the incredible amount of flak preceding the event — endless stories, mostly from UC, claiming that Mrs. Obama responded purely to the students’ persistent invitations, personal letters from family members, and a slew of misspelled valentines. That was a sure sign of a coverup. We refrain from speculation about the first lady’s motives, but note that from the political perspective of the White House it was a perfect way to set a Blue Dog’s tail on fire.

In this congressional district, that’s a good political day.Cardoza did all he could to sell his district to finance, insurance and real estate for his own selfish gain. For his grand finale amid the ruins of the speculative housing
bubble, he took his family away to a home in Annapolis MD, babbling over his shoulder that the Valley was desperately short of physicians and needed a medical school at UC Merced. However, his wife, a physician, was provided a position with the University of Maryland medical system and a “voluntary” faculty appointment at the UM medical school.

What was the quid pro quo to House Majority Leader and old Cardoza mentor, Steny Hoyer, D-MD, behind that?

The president’s wife decides to visit the campus Cardoza did as much as any politician but Gary Condit to bring to Merced as the anchor tenant for urban growth. big farm-land prices, and a super realtor/banker/mortgage lender feeding frenzy. The Preakness and the fat cats call. What is he to do? It’s a matter of values, maybe even of ethics. It could be about nothing more than good manners, excluding political protocol. For Cardoza it was simple: values are pecuniary, there ain’t no such thing as ethics, the bum doesn’t have the manners of an unemployed farmworker, Hoyer told him to be at the Preakness, and besides, at the track you can gamble legally instead of through a bookie with all those complexities, especially for a congressman that may not be able to cover his bets.

BILL HATCH lives in Merced, CA. He can be reached at wmmhatch@sbcglobal.net.

Bill Hatch lives in the Central Valley in California. He is a member of the Revolutionary Poets Brigade of San Francisco. He can be reached at: billhatch@hotmail.com.