ESSAY- 'Good' enough? Hiring a hen to guard the foxes

If I'm moral enough, you might see my smiling face when you cast your ballot Tuesday. But right now that question is hanging in the balance.

It seems that to be an election official in Albemarle County– and assure that the results between a sitting Senator whose language might include derogatory remarks toward people of some background or another and a challenger who thinks women should be chained in the kitchen and never near him in battle are scrupulously fair– I need to be of "sound moral character."

My Beloved says there's no way, but I say, "I just told the truth"

Here's what I wrote on the application for the one-time, one-day job with two-hour training session: "How does one know if one is of sound moral character? I think I am. At least, I have never been accused or convicted of a crime, and I've never sent inappropriate emails to pages– either male or female– and I've never asked an intern to kneel in front of me in the Oval Office."

My Beloved, who has a successful career, suggests that this implies I'm a "kook." I, who continues to be an abject failure at this thing called career, suggest it implies that I pay attention to national events.

Or at least People Magazine.

So in case Albemarle Elections Manager Clarice Schermerhorn reads the Hook, I think I should fill in the details. I want this $150 job.

Like Douglas Ginsburg– who did not make the Supreme

Court– I did burn something I shouldn't.

Unlike President Clinton, I did inhale it.

Like President Carter, I did lust in my heart. Unlike him, I lusted, and still lust, elsewhere as well.

Like Wilbur Mills, John Tower, and now Mark Foley, I do exercise my right elbow. But, unlike the French, there are no grapes involved.

Like Congressman Mark "Duke" Cunningham, I could perhaps be bought. Unlike him, no one has tried.

Like Congressman William Jefferson, I sometimes keep inappropriate things in my refrigerator. Unlike him, I've never managed to freeze– or even see– $90,000.

Like Hillary Clinton and Mark Abramoff, I have tried to play both ends against the middle. Unlike them, I've never gotten federal, state, or local dollars– indeed federal, state or local cents– because of my connections.

Unlike Abramoff, I've never pled guilty.

Unlike Hillary, I've never lost a subpoenaed file Cabinet on my dressing room table for two years. 

Like John McCain, I wish politics could be reformed. Unlike him, Charles Keating– of the Savings and Loan debacle– never had me in his rolodex.

Like them all, I have lied. Unlike any of them, I admit it.

I don't know, of course, whether the above makes me moral, Ms. Schermerhorn. I don't go to church, but I do believe that "Do unto others" must be the world's best philosophy– especially as I pay attention to how the Jews and the Moslems, the Shite Moslems and the Sunni Moslems, the Hindus and the Sikhs, and the Catholics and the Protestants seem to keep murdering each other around the world.

So am I moral? Or am I kind of like Arlo Guthrie, who two wars ago found himself on the Group W bench singing, "You got a lot a damn gall to ask me if I've rehabilitated myself. I mean, I mean, I mean that just, I'm sittin' here on the bench, I mean I'm sittin' here on the Group W bench 'cause you want to know if I'm moral enough join the army, burn women, kids, houses and villages after bein' a litterbug."

To directly quote one famous President, Ms. Schermerhorn, "to be perfectly clear," I am not a litterbug. That was a song lyric. 

And to paraphrase that same famous President, Ms. Schermerhorn, "The Albemarle people have to know their election official is not a crook."

We have machines for that.


Epilogue: I didn't make the cut. No reason except that they have enough poll workers.

Randy Salzman is a former communications professor and now a Charlottesville-based freelance writer.