When news leaked of Jefferson Smith’s drunken fisticuffs two decades ago, I was at the spigot. Witnessing a young, ambitious political career go up in flames like a high-end car wreck wasn’t something I was used to witnessing first hand. As you may know or heard, there’s a difference between witnessing the crash compared to the slow, over-the-shoulder wake that follows.
Without getting too cliche, too figurative ‘n stuff, I’ve witnessed a crash at high speeds, and I didn’t know how to process it at first — like I didn’t know how to process the dismantling of another man’s career goals. Of course, he’d had other PR fumbles: numerous suspensions of his driver’s license, the low-blow in a game of pick-up basketball, being banned from a rec. soccer league. I feel like an ass just listing this stuff again, gossiping about another man’s business. I’m not a fan. But he did something unjustifiable, and journalists have a duty to tell the people who they’re voting for.
I know this isn’t particularly relevant. I guess I’m trying to say that it’s important not to romanticize your job. I got caught up in some fantasy in my head of exposing political corruption, maybe even some badass mafia connections, as my job description. Instead of Watergate, I saw a young drunk kid doing the kind of stupid stuff young drunk kids do, and the aspiring politician he grew up to be still doing stupid stuff. What was worse for me was to watch the fallout, when unions withdrew their endorsements only to not endorse anyone at all, like the many voters who are now just going to vote for a write-in cadidate because now both choices are bleak. It’s like they were saying “Eh, now we don’t care who wins.”
He may still win, as an underdog, though polls indicate he’s a longshot now.
“He’s finished,” one of my colleagues said. “He’s going back to the minor leagues.” And the next day we started working on a different story.