Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Straight Talk about a Favorite Son

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Straight Talk about a Favorite Son

Article excerpt

St. Louisans share many cultural values integrity, community and the Cardinals, to name a few. Our Midwestern upbringing grounds our relationships and guides our responsibilities.

Few politicians reflected our values as plainly as Dick Gephardt. His oft-cited working class background and meteoric rise in politics are likely reasons the Institute of Public Service at Washington University chose to bear his name.What should shock those who hold the former congressman in high regard as I once did is the degree to which this favorite son has traded his homespun values and relationships to the highest bidder as a Washington lobbyist.

Once a dogged voice for labor and the working class, Gephardt has been on Boeing and Spirit Aerosystems' payrolls running aggressive anti-labor campaigns. As congressman, he advocated for universal health insurance coverage as "the moral issue of our time," but as United Healthcare lobbyist he worked to kill provisions of health care reform. Peabody Energy paid him to block climate change legislation, and Goldman Sachs hired him to weaken financial regulations.

The list of turncoat transgressions is long and sordid.But for me personally, Gephardt's most stunning U-turn crosses the line from a hypocrisy of greed to a collusion of immorality.

Growing up in our area, Gephardt was a political figure I respected, especially as an Armenian-American.In the 1980s, Gephardt became a champion of legislation to officially recognize the Armenian Genocide as a "genocide" and bring accountability to Turkey for the systematic, unpunished murder of 1.5 million Christian Armenians during World War I. Survivors of the atrocities, including my maternal grandmother, found refuge in the Metro East, and three generations later our local Armenian-American community remains grateful and strong.Similar to those who admired Gephardt the populist and those folksy stories he would tell of his father, the milkman, and his mother, the secretary we saw him as one of us.One with us.

Departing from his advocacy for genociderecognitionin Congress, Gephardt is Turkey's handsomely paid ringleader for genocidedenialas a lobbyist. …

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