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There is a code among newspaper columnists. We do not engage in household maintenance that might deprive a tradesman of a fee.Can you imagine George Will on his back under the kitchen sink? Not going to happen. Reason is, Will respects his tradesman. How would Will feel if his plumber began writing a column for Newsweek?That’s why I am so blasted furious with a certain governor right now. And you know who. Mr. Richardson. Big Bill. Billy Boy. William Blaire Richardson the Third, born in Pasadena, Calif. Who would have thought the cuddly tyke, already the hint of a beard shadowing his chubby face, would one day grow up, become governor of New Mexico and return to his birthplace to reign over his state’s float in the Rose Bowl Parade?More to the point, who would have thought this governor – admired, coddled by a certain columnist trying to brown nose his way into a plush state job – would turn traitor by becoming a columnist himself? And not in your plain, ordinary New Mexico newspaper with its school menus and little league scores. No, this guy has to publish his column in the famous Washington Post.Well, e-x-c-u-s-e me. I just may go put in some baseboard or something. Or maybe run for governor.What Bill wrote about, of course, is his decision to join the Barack Obama cavalry. In several decades of observing the American political scene, I have not seen anyone close to Richardson’s ability to hog headlines. Who would have thought a simple endorsement of a presidential candidate would dominate national headlines for weeks?So upset were Clinton loyalists with this perceived disloyalty, they threw a rod just as the campaign raced toward the finish line. Robot sycophant James Carville called Richardson a Judas for turning on his political benefactor. Hillary’s husband, himself a former president, is said to have gone into one of his tirades.(Note to President Clinton. You’ve done your thing. Enough with the tirades. Get over yourself.)Columnist Bill reiterated his “difficult, even painful decision,” and hammered home the theme Obama is the most obvious choice to repair damage to our country. Despite Clinton camp claims to the contrary, Richardson insists he never promised to endorse Hillary.Here’s my take. Loyalty is for kings. We don’t have kings in America. We have what are supposed to be public servants, and the Clinton “you owe me” theme speaks volumes about what is wrong with politics in America.The whole system, from your town hall to the corridors of Congress, is largely based on the “you owe me” approach to government. I am a rich lobbyist and I gave you a lot of money. You owe me. I got you that job. You owe me.Richardson himself is not without “you owe me” guilt in New Mexico. To a large extent, that is the way he conducts business. But that is not why I am mad at him today.I am livid he has become a columnist, so miffed I am going to finally disclose the truth behind the beard.Thanks to Alamogordo fifth-grade school teacher Ann DeRoy, I have learned a young girl wrote a letter to then beardless Abraham Lincoln. She advised him that if he would grow a beard it would make him look more manly, that women would like him better, and they would be more likely to convince their husbands to vote for him. There you have it. Honest Bill.
Ned Cantwell – firstname.lastname@example.org – welcomes response from his readers. You owe him.