Home / Culture and Society / John Conyers: Lazy, Illiterate or Just Full of Chutzpah? You Make the Call

John Conyers: Lazy, Illiterate or Just Full of Chutzpah? You Make the Call

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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?

Yeah, right.

You make the call.

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About Joanne Huspek

I write. I read. I garden. I cook. I eat. And I love to talk about all of the above.
  • Pablo

    The way that I read your article you are singling out Conyers for doing something that the vast majority in congress engage in. Which is to not read pending legislation that they are about to vote on. Reprehensible? Of course.

    If anything such lack of interest, shows the real problem in congress. That they are only paid shills, serving their various PAC interests and the ruling elite. Therefore they have no real need to actually read pending legislation before they vote on it. Their vote was bought and paid for already.

  • Likely true, Pablo, which is very sad. What monster have we created?

  • Bliffle

    The legislation is largely written by lobbyists. It’s government by, of, and for the lobbyists.

    Even congresscritters who assign parts of each bill to their staff, and then ask for summaries of each part, are really neglectful.

  • Baronius

    Joanne, I hate to digress, but have you seen the footage of that Toledo mayoral candidate getting heckled? It’s inspirational. The candidate broke a campaign promise, and gets treated with the lack of respect he deserves.

  • Ah, John Conyers, likable old gent from Michigan. Kindda like Morgan Freeman on the outside but as sinister as Rush Limbaugh. Let’s see some of his latest contributions:

    $10,000 from a Beer Wholesalers PAC
    $3,000 from Warner Music Group
    $10,000 from International Brotherhood of Boilermakers (goes GREAT with beer!)
    $5,000 from DirectTV PAC.

    And this is just THIS year in an off year! These contributions scratch the surface. But his constituency will re-elect him because they don’t know that he’s raised over $250,000 this year. They continue to live under the false notion that John Conyers would would never do anything to harm folks back home. They need him in Congress to keep tabs on the other crooks. Give me a break.

  • Oh, and in answer to your questions, Joanne, NONE OF THE ABOVE. John Conyers is cut from the same cloth as 98% of his fellow members. He uses racial prejudice to his advantage. So, if anything, I’d call him a closet bigot who would sell his mother’s soul to retain the power he’s “achieved”.