Here in Southeastern Michigan, the name Conyers conjures up a Democratic dynasty that includes a US Congressman and a past Detroit City Council President.
Many people in the area have an awe of such long-standing political figures. John Conyers has been in Congress forever and a day. Since 1965, anyway.
His wife, Monica, recently had to give up her day job as City Council member when she pled guilty to conspiracy to commit bribery. These include baubles she took to fill up her jewelry box. For anyone who doesn’t know, Detroit city corruption has been all the news for the last year or so. Ms. Conyers might spend the next three to five years in the slammer.
Ms. Conyers has been entertaining us with her outrageous behavior both at home (picking fights with other council members and school children) and away (causing a scene at a hotel during last year’s Democratic Convention, among other indiscretions) for a long time. She’s beyond sassy; she’s a certifiable character. Remember Kwame Kilpatrick? Monica Conyers is his female mirror image. She’s the embodiment of a career politician who thinks that just because she was elected to office, she’s the queen and we should grovel in her presence. Such feelings of entitlement might explain why she was so quick to take bribes to swing votes.
I run a business where occasionally Conyers relatives call up and namedrop while securing services. If they are expecting me to bow down and kiss their feet (or patooti) just because of their last name, they called the wrong person. I’m just as nice to non-Conyers callers.
Every time Monica’s antics grabbed a headline, I cringed. I felt sorry not only for the residents of Detroit, I felt sorry for her family. John Conyers seemed like a decent enough guy, a representative who keeps the home state in mind, even though he loves to spend taxpayer money. Unlike his wife, he maintains a low profile. I don’t believe transmuting the “sins of the father” – or of the wife – to other family members so I cut him some slack.
That was, until yesterday, when John Conyers admitted he doesn’t read legislation. According to him, he doesn’t have two days and in-staff attorneys to do it. And then he poked fun at his colleagues who do. Then he chided those who expect him to do so. And he was videotaped saying such.
I know, I know… I shouldn’t expect my elected officials to read legislation. Call me a dreamer. Call me a nitpicker. Call me a person with an ounce of common sense. Call me a reader.
I read all day long. I’m online researching. I read manuals provided by the state. I read books with an emphasis on traffic safety. I read letters, and answer them too. I read magazines and catalogs. I even read junk mail before I round can it.
I read the paper, not on the days when it’s delivered electronically, but on the weekends when I can touch it and get my fingers inky. And I read every article in every section, including the sports section and the classified ads. I read the nutrition information on the food I eat and the tags on the clothes I buy. I read directions when I buy something and it comes in a thousand pieces (think Barbie’s van and grab a bottle of Excedrin).
I read romance novels and young adult novels. I’m reading Atlas Shrugged right now, not for fun but for inspiration and because I didn’t read it in high school. Next on the list: The Constitution.
I read the information that comes in my credit card bill each month, as I was waiting for Bank of America to up my interest rate. (So far, I’m okay.)
I pore over every line in my tax return, and read the medical disclaimer when I recently underwent a procedure. I read anything and everything that requires my signature before I sign it.
I also pull up state legislation and that which is available in DC, and yes, I read it. Most of the time it gives me a headache, but I plod through and read.
Watching John Conyers last night caused me to wonder: What the hell is wrong with him?
There are three theories I have with regard to Conyers’ lack of reading ability:
1. He’s lazy and doesn’t have time. Granted, he has his hands full with the Missus. I imagine there’s going to be preparation with regard to his – ah hem, affairs – in Detroit. I don’t know if he’ll be allowed conjugal visits once Monica is securely bunked down in the slammer and maybe that’s on his mind.
2. He’s illiterate. He doesn’t know how to read. In that case, he has a legitimate excuse. The inability to read is considered a learning disability. As a non-reader, Conyers would be able to take advantage of government programs designed to help him. Non-readers can get human aides to help them read contracts. He can also buy a digital tape recorder. He may be able to have the words converted electronically. Then he can have the bills downloaded into his iPod and he can read (listen) to them at night.
3. Or, Mr. Conyers has a horrible case of chutzpah. That’s right, he’s too good to read! Too audacious! Too important! He has a contempt of Congress for whatever material they produce. His hubris prevents him from reading. Read? You expect him to actually read? As in translate the printed word into ideas that make sense in his brain?
You make the call.