Off Beat: Wally waxes; signs off
Twenty-six years of Wally Herger in Congress are coming to an end. What does he have to say?
Herger issued a final statement last week summing up his tenure in DC representing the good people of the North State.
There was no chest thumping about bills he carried that became law, or all the other battles he waged against "radical environmentalists" and others.
No, this was Wally waxing poetic about your neighbors.
"I cannot leave this place without saying a few words about the wonderful people of Northern California," Herger's statement said. "In my rural district, you will find farmers with rough hands and sunburned faces. You will find tough timber fallers and mill workers. The people of rural California have that old-fashioned and refreshing patriotism that leads them to post this kind of sign at the county line: 'Where We Honor Veterans.'"
Wally then kind of summed up his whole reason for being in Washington.
"In my two decades of service, the thing that has always struck me the most about my constituents is that what they really want most from the federal government is simply to be left alone. They do not want a new program," Herger observed. "They want to run their small businesses, their farms and their mills without being wrapped up in 15 yards of red tape. They want to compete, they want to prosper. They understand the premise of this country — personal liberty. The freedom to pursue a dream. The concept of risk and reward. That is not too much to ask."
That was Wally's view of his constituents, but with the poverty and unemployment in his district, you might consider that some people around here really need government programs. But that was never part of the Wally equation.
Wally reminded everyone that when he came to DC, "President Ronald Reagan, one of my personal heroes, was wrapping up the final years of his second term."
And Wally, for better or worse, carried on the Reagan tradition. The Gipper was probably smiling.
Fittingly, perhaps, one of the areas that Herger represented, Yuba-Sutter, received a mention in the New York Times a few days ago.
The Times ran a story about California's economic recovery. The story included a graphic of the state's metro areas, by unemployment rates, highest to lowest.
You can probably guess which area was at the very top of the Times' list.