“I do believe in faith, forgiveness, and redemption,” said cocaine-consuming congressman Trey Radel on Wednesday night during a press conference. The Florida Tea Party Republican admitted his addiction was a “disease” and that he was “owning up to his actions.” He said he wants to be held “accountable” and “rebuild the trust” of his constituents. He is taking a leave of absence while he seeks treatment. He wants to do all this for his “family and for his wife.” He talked about his “little guy,” his two-year-old son. He talked about his mom who “struggled with alcoholism” and how hard that was.
Until the end, when the congressman exited the news conference stage right, not one reporter in Cape Coral, Florida, ask him about his vote to force food stamp recipients to take drug tests in order to continue receiving help. Finally, as he left the room, someone asked about his vote on drug testing. He was, by then, gone. He disappeared without answering.
Thus, we have a man who wisely admitted he has a sickness, a problem that he can’t deal with on his own. He needs professional help, he said. But I don’t know if addiction professionals can help him admit that as part of his recovery, as part of his rehabilitation and redemption, he needs to emphatically and publicly admit that he was absolutely wrong to vote with his Republican colleagues on legislation that would force those who find themselves in need of government food assistance to submit to government-mandated drug testing in order to prove their fealty to drug laws and to receive benefits.
I wish him all the best in his difficult battle against addiction, but Trey Radel can never claim rehabilitation victory until he admits that he and his fellow Republicans, in their mean-spirited attempt to slander those who need public assistance to help ward off hunger, were wrong in tying food stamps to drug testing.
Let’s hope he comes back a new man in more ways than one.