Thursday, July 24, 2014

Ex-football player Didier still only good for taking up space

I was sitting in my barracks room in Fort Lewis, Washington on the evening of October 17, 1983, mulling over the news that I received orders to head back to Germany for another two-year stint in another few weeks. On my television set was Monday Night Football, featuring the defending Super Bowl champion Washington Redskins in an at the time rare appearance by the Green Bay Packers, who behind quarterback Lynn Dickey were actually given a fighting chance to win because of their explosive pass offense. It would be one of the most memorable sports event I ever witnessed, right up there with Game 6 of the 1976 World Series, when Bernie Carbo hit a three-run homerun to tie the game late, and Carlton Fisk hit the game-winning homerun over the Green Monster to propel Boston to a 7-6 win over Cincinnati in extra innings. 

In this game—the highest scoring affair in MNF history—defense was virtually non-existent. Both teams punted but once in the entire game, which must be a record. Eleven touchdowns and six field goals were scored in a game that saw five lead changes in the fourth quarter alone. The sixth was barely avoided when Mark Moseley—one of the last of a dying breed of “conventional” kickers—slid his field goal attempt to the right on the last play of the game to preserve a 48-47 upset victory for Green Bay. The usually by-now bored old guard MNF team actually seemed to be enjoying the game. 

There was one play, however, which generated some “controversy.” With the Packers leading 7-0 early in the first quarter, the Redskin’s marched downfield with relative ease until John Riggins fumbled the ball near the goal line. There was a scrum for the ball, but the replay appeared to show that a Green Bay player recovered the ball. But the play was scored a touchdown for Washington, to the disbelief of Packer defenders. The Redskins second-year tight end, Clint Didier, had emerged from the pile (without the ball) having allegedly “recovered” the football, according to officials, apparently after trying to dive under the Packer player who was on top of it; it was the kind of maddening “judgment” call that we saw in the Seattle Seahawks controversial 14-12 win over Green Bay in 2012.  

That was Didier’s “highlight” real for 1983. Although his name has a ring of familiarity to it, in fact his “game” was rather limited. He caught passes in only 6 games in 1983, catching a total of 9. But at 6-5 he was a hulking figure on the field at the time. His best game was in the Super Bowl that year; however, his five catches were apparently made in “junk” time in 38-9 blow-out loss to Oakland. Didier caught a total of 141 passes in an 8-year career with the Redskins and an inconsequential tenure in Green Bay, where he played in a handful of games before retiring.  

The only thing “special” about Didier was his name and that he took up space at the tight end position; he was useful for standing in people’s way, and apparently that is all he is good for when truth is the issue. The money that Didier “earned” as a football player was used to purchase large tracts of land in Eastern Washington, where he became an alfalfa “farmer”—something that hardly requires much “expertise,” since the plant is a perennial that simply grows and regrows after each cutting, to be harvested as feed for cattle. 

The only “requirement” other than someone to run the bailer and stack them in a barn is water. Rain is a precious commodity in Eastern Washington, a desert-like environment for much of its expanse. Water to irrigate lands such as those of Didier’s must come from somewhere. That somewhere is the canals off the Grand Coulee Dam on the Columbia River. The dam was a “New Deal” project during the Great Depression—one of those “make work” ideas that actually had a useful purpose. Without it, far-right so-called “rugged individualist” like Didier would be more like the “weak” who are “eat up the strong,” as he has been quoted as saying.

Up until a few years ago when this Tea Party hypocrite was exposed, Didier received hundreds of thousands of dollars in Department of Agriculture subsidies—another example of how the “strong” actually prey on “weak” taxpayers. Didier’s claim that he and other right-wing “rugged individualist” pay large fees for use of the Grand Coulee water supply has been exposed as another mendacity; only 1..5 percent of the cost of its operation is paid for by the “rugged individualists” who depend upon it for their livelihoods.

In 2010 when Didier was “running” for the U.S. Senate, Danny Westneat of the Seattle Times noted that

“Of all stories we tell ourselves, the one about how we're a merit-based nation of lone wolves has got to be the most enduring. The most intoxicating. And the most baloney…Nowhere is the myth as confused with reality as in rock-ribbed Eastern Washington. The place depends utterly on the government and communal resources for its existence, from the New Deal irrigation system still being paid for by taxpayers elsewhere, to farming subsidies and crop price supports. Yet in their own minds, they are mavericks living off the land…"We don't need the government to come in and try to prop things up," a Lincoln County grain buyer told me as the economy was collapsing in the fall of 2008. As if the local economy weren't already propped up.

Of course, now Didier and those like him would “oppose” building of the dam, because it costs money to build such things, and we should not be spending any of their money on things that are useful to more people than themselves, such as providing affordable electricity. Didier, who is now running for a U.S. House seat, has vowed to “fight” for the elimination of the Departments of Education and Energy, Social Security, Medicare and anything else that helps “the weak”—probably his own mother, if she is still alive. Naturally, “Obamacare” is in his gun sights, and one wonders if this is merely “figurative,” since this idiot has given away guns to fellow “freedom fighters” as a political campaign gimmick. Didier has also called for moving the troops leaving Afghanistan to the U.S.-Mexican border—and to do what, exactly? Shoot children?

The fact is that Didier and the far-right so-called “libertarians” are the kind of people who simply cannot see beyond their own backyards. They are nothing without all the people they disparage. Society cannot function unless there are people who make, buy or sell. Money, wherever it comes from and ends-up, is used to support the economy and the maintenance of civilization. Even people on public support (that includes retirees on Social Security) spend money on things that give other people jobs in which to earn a living. What did we see when the Bush administration gave the rich trillions of dollars in tax cuts? Were jobs created? No, they used it to make them more rich or blow it on schemes that backfired in 2008. Money needs to be in hands of people who actually need it and will use it to maintain the economy. 

But Tea Party extremists like Didier see a much less complex world, where you “live off the land”—like Didier believes—or just be a “hard-working American,” preferably a “real” American, that is to say a “white” one. These animalistic bigots are only about themselves, and everyone else be damned, and that is what makes them dangerous to the maintenance of civilization. Like that fumbled football, Didier claims a world that is not his to take.

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