U.S. Rep. Rick Boucher, the gentleman leaves a legacyI'm inclined to give this person the benefit of the doubt and judge this editorial as a sloppy sop to an outgoing politician. But then I'm also inclined to think that whoever wrote this shit actually believes it. In which case it needs to be addressed.
As ugly as the campaign rhetoric became – on the airwaves, at the rallies and even on this Opinion Page – one might have understood if U.S. Rep. Rick Boucher had been more, well, silent in his defeat.
True to his character, though, he remained the consummate, scholarly gentleman: Beaming his signature broad-grinned, twinkly-eyed smile he ... [blah blah blah]
[H]is constituency voted for change. The reasons likely are as varied as the voters themselves – from anger over joblessness, a bad economy and growing national debt to fear over the cap-and-trade legislation and new health care laws.
Still, Boucher was good for Southwest Virginia. As we outlined in our endorsement for his re-election, he was able to bring progress to previously underserved regions of Southwest Virginia in terms of long-needed infrastructure – water and sewer projects and even the more modern broadband Internet service.
On election night, Boucher said he hoped his legacy of public service lives on, and lives on positively.
It could hardly be otherwise. [link]
Are we to measure Rick Boucher's "legacy" by the "progress" he brought to "previously underserved regions of Southwest Virginia"? Does the author really want to do that? Where, pray tell, is the most "underserved" region of the 9th Congressional District? Is it fair to say that it's the coalfields region of Dickenson, Lee, Russell, Scott, Tazewell, and Wise Counties? Are these the same counties that found their populations steadily declining throughout Boucher's time in office in Washington?
How do we measure progress? By the standard of living over there? A standard of living that has been in decline for two decades?
By the cohesion level in the family structure in an area where turmoil and breakup are rampant?
By the drug dependency level that continues to grow?
By the level of dependency on the federal government for a handout, the level of which continues to rise?
How about the simple poverty rate?
By the rate of suicide that continues to be heartrending?
Or, more analytically, by the fact that the per capita income level in Lee County is now one-fourth of that in Arlington County?
My guess is, the author looks past all that and remembers that Boucher brought a sewer system to a tiny part of Pulaski County. And that he moved Grundy out of the flood plain (at a cost of $200 million). And that he secured the federal funds to extend broadband and high speed telecommunications to parts of his district.
It wasn't enough, pal.
In the end, it did the district no good.
While Boucher was installing commodes in Pocahontas, Chilhowie was crumbling.
Here's where we reach the chasm that separates the editorialists in Bristol from thinking persons who can look around and see the reality that is Southwest Virginia. The author of this editorial sees some of the "gifts" that Rick Boucher secured for the area and is pleased. I see the dozens and dozens of major employers that have closed their doors - forever - taking thousands of excellent-paying jobs with them - and left the region.
If you are inclined to wait for the federal government to do something for you, you're probably appreciative of the job Rick Boucher - otherwise known as Santa Claus - did.
If you understand that our elected representative in Washington could have done so much more to improve the lives of every citizen of the 9th Congressional District by creating conditions such that those who employ people thrive, you rejoiced at Boucher's defeat.
A robust economy "raises all boats." Not just in Grundy, Or Damascus. But throughout the region. We all prosper when employers prosper.
Employers that packed their bags and left for China while Rick Boucher was handing out checks here and there in his District.
Rick Boucher's legacy can be found here: "Percent of total population in poverty."
It's worse today than it was the day he arrived in office last century.
Sing his praises if you will. Those who voted with their feet - and their U-haul trailers - offer a different melody.