(and a couple of reasons why I am)
(I'm fairly nice to Trey Radel in this post. I regret that now that he's gotten away with something that would have ruined a less privileged person's life -- see the update at the end of the post.)
You probably know about this:
Rep. Trey Radel, R-Fla., was caught buying drugs as part of a federal investigation into a Washington, D.C., drug ring last month and is being charged with cocaine possession, according to a senior Drug Enforcement Administration official....I'd be happy to drink a big, tall glass of schadenfreude right now, but there are a few things about Radel that make me think he's not a completely bad guy, even if he is a teabagger.
Radel is a former radio host, TV reporter and newspaper owner who was swept into office with Tea Party support....
* He once smacked down a homophobe on Twitter, in defense of Rachel Maddow. Late last month, according to Twitchy, Radel sent the following tweet:
He got this response:
He also tweeted this to his fellow right-winger: "It's u that gives us a bad name. Ur an idiot."
Maybe it was just the booze talking (after his arrest was made public, Radel said, "I struggle with the disease of alcoholism"), but, tea party voter base or not, Radel treats Maddow better here than Liz Cheney treats her sister.
* He doesn't just claim to love rap music, he actually makes beats. And they're not terrible. You may have seen Radel described as a "rap-loving GOP congressman" and assumed that this is just the new thing for Republicans trying to seem as hip as President Obama, a la Marco Rubio name-checking Tupac. Maybe you've even seen Radel's post "Why I'm a Hip Hop Conservative," either at BuzzFeed or at Rap Genius, and thought it was mere posturing.
But Esquire found out that he makes his own beats sometimes -- and while he's no RZA, his work isn't bad. I can't embed them, but you can listen to three of them here -- "Hoochie Coochie Man" by Muddy Waters with hip-hop backup, a track based on a vocal sample from Smokey Robinson's "Cruisin'," and a remix of Public Enemy's "Bring the Noise."
Some quick background: He does not have a DJ name. He has a hard-drive full of mostly GarageBand tracks. He's been influenced by Eric B., Massive Attack, Daft Punk, and Dr. Dre (his communications director, Amanda Nuñez, said they call his music "Beats by Trey" around his D.C. office). He doesn't have time to make beats much anymore ("I have not done anything musically inclined in about a year-and-a-half or so, except to pick up the acoustic guitar and play to my young boy"). He doesn't know of any other Congressional beat-makers.* On the subject of drug policy, he's not a complete hypocrite. Think Progress reports:
He also says he's not very good (which, if you listen, especially to the middle part of his "Hoochie Coochie Man" remix, is actually debatable): "I'm a rookie. I mean, my stuff is just some things I put together as a hobby. I'm not really good. I really enjoy making it. And If I have some cheesy tune where I'm remixing Public Enemy and people like it, hey, it puts a smile on my face."
Radel cosponsored a law that seeks to end mandatory minimum sentencing requirements that often send people to jail with a conviction no worse than drug possession. He has also spoken extensively about the need to reform the way the United States copes with its drug problems, repeating that a "war on drugs" is not the way to tackle drug issues. Here are just a couple of his comments on the topic:
"The war on guns is as naive as the war on drugs," Radel said. "Nothing will disappear.” [The News-Press, January 30, 2013]"But I do think beyond just security assistance programs, there needs to be a much more engaged and focused, targeted approach by the United States.... And that’s where we get back to institutional support versus just, gee, how many kilos of cocaine have we seized today?" ]Congressional Hearing, June 19, 2013]...
On the other hand, Think Progress also notes:
Radel's views aren't all about dealing with drug issues comprehensively, though. He reportedly said he opposed legalizing marijuana in a debate back in April.And Raw Story adds:
Radel voted in September to require SNAP [food stamp] recipients to undergo drug testing as a condition of their assistance.So:
A guy with some redeeming features. But still a hypocrite.
UPDATE: Radel has pleaded guilty to cocaine possession and been sentenced to ... a year's probation. Writes Dan Amira:
"I can't believe the white congressman received a light sentence," said nobody.