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Charlie Vignola: McKeon knocked out in the debate

Democratic Voices

Posted: October 16, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: October 16, 2012 2:00 a.m.

Last Wednesday, Democratic candidate for Congress Dr. Lee Rogers delivered a knockout performance against Republican Congressman Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Santa Clarita, in their one and only debate at the Hyatt Regency Valencia.

If you weren’t one of the nearly 300 locals who paid $45 to see the debate, you missed a first-rate political smackdown.

I suppose it’s possible that Buck could have performed worse than he did, but it’s tough to imagine how: He was peevish, red-faced and defensive as Rogers hammered away at the veteran congressman, calmly and methodically running down the laundry list of legitimate reasons why Buck is no longer an effective or even ethical representative for our community.

From his sweetheart mortgage deal with the fatally corrupt Countrywide, to his failure of leadership on the Cemex mine issue that endangers the quality of life for thousands of citizens (including myself) near the Highway 14 freeway, to arranging for his wife, Patricia, to get money for her legislative run from the very defense contractors he represents, Buck didn’t have a single good answer for any of it.

Worse, nearly every time Buck was nailed for not dealing with important community issues, he insisted that new “earmark” rules in Congress tied his hands, so it wasn’t his fault he couldn’t do anything to help. He was just following the rules of Congress, you see.

The only problem with that logic is that Buck is a member of the party that vigorously demanded those new earmark rules and he voted for them, so if his hands are tied then he’s the one who tied them.

Buck also complained about how the idiotic sequestration put in place by his feckless 112th Congress would result in devastating cuts to America’s defense, and how it was his duty to put a stop to this.

Again, the only problem with his complaint is that Buck’s party is the one that demanded this sequestration. It was all part of the GOP’s determination to make raising the debt ceiling a political football, and when they demanded spending cuts for every dollar raised for the debt ceiling — a condition never required of any previous administration in U.S. history — it resulted in the bipartisan negotiated cuts in defense and entitlements that make up the sequestration.

When Lee Rogers asked Buck why he decided to vote for such harsh cuts in the first place — cuts, mind you, that Republicans insisted be put on the table — his answer was that the cuts were designed to be so painful that he was assured they’d never happen.

In other words, Buck voted for the cuts, Buck made a judgment call that the so-called “Supercommittee” would solve the problem, Buck was dead wrong, and now Buck is crying “Chicken Little” that his beloved bloated military budget will have to take a haircut.

When asked about the needed cleanup of toxic waste at the Santa Susana Field Laboratory in Simi Valley, which Buck was newly representing in the wake of California redrawing congressional district lines, it was clear Buck knew nothing about the issue, as opposed to Dr. Rogers, who was very knowledgeable about the situation and explained how he’d make it a priority.

Perhaps most amusing was how Buck insisted that we needed to junk the Affordable Care Act because it would put the government between doctors and their patients.

Rogers, a renowned specialist in limb preservation, patiently explained how Buck is just dead wrong on the issue — which he easily and credibly did since, you know, he’s actually a doctor and deals with patients through the Affordable Care Act every day.

In the end, Lee Rogers came across as energetic, good-humored, politically moderate and well-versed on all the local concerns, while Buck came across as testy, pompous, disconnected from the community he’s supposed to serve and primarily concerned with figuring out ways to keep tax money flowing to the defense contractors who pay to keep him in office.

It’s ironic that Buck has a street named after him that leads to Wal-Mart, because if he’s elected to another term he’ll increase the chances that you’ll be forced to shop there.

Here’s the truth: Buck McKeon is a career politician who holds the dubious distinction of being a “leader” of the lowest-rated Congress in U.S. history. He’s counting on people voting for him out of habit, not because he’s the best man for the job.

Lee Rogers wants to serve his entire community, not just the defense contractors, and he deserves your vote.

Charlie Vignola is a former college Republican turned liberal Democrat. He lives in Fair Oaks Ranch, works in the motion picture industry and loves his wife and kids.


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