Americans have a funny penchant for “fixin’ things that ain’t broke.” American voters, in particular, really like to “fix” things. We regularly vote elected officials out of office who are doing a fine job in favor of someone else who seems newer and shinier only to find later that we have chosen badly and have to live with the grim results.
Case in point is embattled congressman from New York Michael G. Grimm. In 2010, Grimm defeated Rep. Michael McMahon. In retrospect, McMahon seems to have served his constituents and the U.S. with a pretty good degree of distinction, even becoming a noteworthy expert and leader in the realm of international affairs. We are now hearing from law enforcement and judicial officials that Grimm was elected with a significant amount of help from special interests that are not exactly above board and do not have the best interests of the U.S. in mind.
Grimm’s missteps have not been limited to his restaurant dealings for which he has been indicted on 20 counts in federal court, or his suspect campaign fundraising, which remains under grand jury review.
During his tenure in the House of Representatives, Grimm’s forays into foreign policy have raised more than a few eyebrows within the Beltway and beyond. His one man visit to the cell of convicted spy Jonathan Pollard, his co-chairmanship of the Armenian Caucus, his active part in the infamous Sea of Galilee skinny dipping delegation (there is an unpleasant visual for you) or his co-founding of a pro-Russia caucus in the House; all show a lack of restraint and appreciation of world events and the American national interest.
Interestingly, Grimm was elected with the significant support and help of the Armenian community in the U.S., again, now under investigation. Truth be told, this community disliked McMahon because he was a supporter of NATO member and longtime U.S. ally, Turkey. In addition, McMahon was a supporter of the former Soviet republic, Azerbaijan, a staunch and reliable supporter of the U.S. and the West and one of the U.S.’s few secular, moderate, progressive, majority-Muslim friends — not to mention an enormous source of gas and oil to Western markets bypassing Russia and Iran, and a close ally of Israel, too, providing about 45 percent of Israel’s oil.
In Grimm, New York elected and America got a fellow who co-chairs the Armenian Caucus — yes that Armenia, the vassal state of Russia, complete with Russian military border and airspace regulation, and the one who supports and thanks Iran for its support and the one who supports Russian expansionism in the UN against the U.S. New York and America also got the co-chairman of the U.S.-Russia Economic Relations Caucus — yes that Russia, the one that is gallivanting all over the former Soviet Union invading sovereign nations in a neo-imperialistic effort to rebuild Russian hegemony (and also, by the way, the caucus that has made no statements or proclamations as our friend, Ukraine, is being torn apart).
So, voters and Americans, we seem to have traded a seemingly above board expert, who seems to have had the best interests of the U.S. and his constituents in mind, for a congressman who is willing to shill in favor of special interests that are decidedly not our friends.
Again, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Perhaps New York voters can draft McMahon back into office?
Jason Katz is the principal of the Tool Shed Group, LLC, a consultancy that advises foreign governments, NGOs and corporations in the realms of strategic communications, politics and policy. He is also the former head of Public Affairs and Public Relations for the American Jewish Committee, based in Los Angeles.