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Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Herbert The Whore Monger Runs For Public Office - The Senate Hearings

Herbert Patterson recently ran for the 7th Congressional District of Illinois on a platform of responsibility, duty, and justice.  The 7th for many decades had been a sinkhole of corruption – three federal convictions, four indictments, and a consistent pattern of misrule that surprised even the most inured voters of the State.  Illinois had never had a particularly good reputation as far as righteous rule is concerned.  Rod Blagojevich, George Ryan, Dan Rostenkowski, Dan Walker, and Otto Kerner – four governors and a Congressional Representative – were just the most well-known politicians to be convicted of racketeering, bank fraud, and corruption – and Patterson’s district seemed to be the embryonic center of political misdeeds. 

There was something about the district – perhaps voter weariness, complaisance, and indifference- that provided the primeval broth where lowlife spawned; or perhaps politicians both because of this enabling environment and the patronage of older politicians who, after years of raiding the till, had enough money to retire to Florida.  In any case the 7th had been a safe seat for those who had paid their dues in the tough wards of Chicago, took orders willingly from their bosses, did the needful and the nasty, and were awarded with political office.  They of course never started at the top, but had to work their way up the ladder – aldermen, court clerk, sheriff, minor assistant prosecutors – but with patience and dues, they eventually acceded to real power.  True and faithful to the tradition of the 7th, they trained their minions, selected carefully from the many who wanted public office, and never held on to power long after it was time to pass the torch.

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Herbert Patterson was from a respected family – not well-born or high-toned, but honest working folk whose ancestors had been among the first settlers of the territory who with dedication, hard work, and great optimism made their way and then some.  Patterson’s grandfather had been in the dry goods business, and his father built the small emporium into a  chain of stores throughout southern Illinois.  Patterson, although with great respect for his father and his forbears, felt that his fortunes lay elsewhere; and thanks to his many talents caught the eye of a wealthy Yale alumnus who sponsored the young boy and secured for him a full scholarship.

Herbert thrived at Yale, excited by the vigorous intellectual environment and by the sophisticated, cosmopolitan, but surprisingly libertine ethos of the era.  He was not so much seduced by wine, women, and song but found his true path.  He was an Epicurean of the first order, never knew it growing up in his small town, and only realized it when he joined one of Yale’s many in-crowds.  The Ivy League at the time was still the place of the Gentleman’s C, no one admitted was ever asked to leave, and as long as one kept up appearances and made a reasonable academic effort, the world was open, there, and inviting.

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So although Patterson’s four years in New Haven were not lost – despite Yale’s laissez-faire attitude to the elite members of the university it had always retained its high academic reputation, and Herbert could not help but be exposed to fine minds – most of his time was spent in off-campus ‘parties’.  His wealthier classmates spared no expense to provide the best New York call girls, the finest whisky, and jazz trios from New York.  As these parties grew, Venue 420 as it came to be known, fancied itself as the white Cotton Club – hip, sophisticated, sexy, and off-limits to all but Yale’s best and finest.

It was then that Patterson got a taste of call girls. For a sexual naïf,  a boy with no experience to speak of, the willingness and sexual frankness of the women were exactly what he had always dreamed of.  Of course he knew that they would never replace the right girl, marriage, and children; but for the time being, they were the perfect outlet for his sexual immaturity and an introduction to a sex life that only could be imagined.  His years at Yale, as he fondly remembered them, were the Kama Sutra, Khajuraho, Japanese eroticism, and Casanova combined.  Who cared if his women were paid agents? Or if they had slept with hundreds of men including his classmates?  With the call girls anything went and anything was possible; and Patterson explored the outer reaches of sex and sexuality.  The Bright College Years were indeed the best of his life.

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After he left Yale and returned to his small Illinois community, he found that surprisingly he did not miss Venue 420.  Of course he thought about it, but since he knew that that very special, unique place was unlikely to be recreated anywhere else – some things live in a particular irreplaceable time and place and Venue 420 was one of those.  Ironically Yale had done its job in educating one of America’s future leaders, not in the expected, traditional way, but in a way which was more enlightening that Hume, Russell, and Kant could ever have guaranteed.  Herbert graduated with a maturity and sexual insight that had only been intimated by Freud and D.H.Lawrence.  Tantrism and the Tao were not even considered at Yale.

Thirty years after graduation, Herbert had few thoughts of his college days.  As seminal and influential as they were, he understood that they were only one component of the far more complex and evolved character that he now was.  Law school, public service, corporate success, and community recognition were more immediate and more relevant milestones along the way.  At the age of fifty-five, a group of influential reformers suggested that he run for office in the Illinois 7th.  At first, Patterson was nonplussed.  He had spent his entire professional career building a reputation for rectitude, honesty, and transparency; and now he was being asked to represent perhaps the most corrupt political jurisdiction in the country.

“Hold on, Herb”, said William Sloane, the leader of the reform movement, “Nothing of the sort”.  What Sloane had in mind was a new broom, a long overdue purging of the corrupt entitlement that had infected voters far from the electoral boundaries of the District. Even if he didn’t win, Sloane, said, he would energize the new millennial voters who were increasing in numbers and electoral influence.  Even a loss on a ticket of proven, well-documented honesty and service would not only provide some measure of optimism if not hope among these young voters, it would set him up nicely for a run in a more congenial district.

He agreed, but was quite naïve about the political process.  The old ward heelers of the 7th who had cut their teeth on the dirtiest politics in the land in Chicago decades ago were not about to cut this newcomer any slack.  They would not only challenge him on his rather thin record of public service, they would stop at nothing to discredit him.  As soon as Patterson announced his candidacy, the bosses of the District went to work, hiring the best political consultants in Washington, those who had been party to the demise of politicians high and low on the most personal grounds.  Long before today’s MeToo movement which has raised allegation to an art form, American righteousness and political gullibility were enough in Herbert’s day to give them plenty of cover for the most indefensible of accusations. 

It is important at this moment – for the reader knows what’s coming – to reiterate the nearly flawless character of Herbert Patterson.  He had become in the years since Yale, a successful lawyer who had defended and prosecuted honestly and fairly.  Although he understood that the law permitted any defense in the interest of a client and any evidence, circumstantial or otherwise, to prosecute a criminal; he always acted far from the legal perimeter.  Justice had to be served along with the exoneration or prosecution of the court.   Thanks to this absolute professionalism, it was not long before he was appointed to a judgeship where the ruled from the bench with as much respect for justice as he did for the proceedings before him.

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As his reputation grew, he had been encouraged to sponsor a number of community programs which he did willingly.  He took Jefferson’s adage to heart – the pursuit of happiness should only occur within a community context; the will of the individual and the well-being of the community must both be served – and agreed.

In short, this was a man of fine intellectual abilities, sound jurisprudence, and professional responsibility.  He was a good man, and it was a tribute to his intellectual honesty and moral principles that he even considered William Sloane’s proposition.

It didn’t take long for the Washington consultants to learn of Patterson’s Yale experience.  This was a piece of cake, a smoking gun which had been dropped in their laps; not the long, drawn-out, careful process of nurturing and rewards that it takes today to encourage anyone with grievances against a political nominee to come forward with decades-old allegations of sexual abuse.  No, the Yale experience would be rope, guillotine, and firing squad all rolled up into one.

The TV ads were filled with barely permissible images of cheap hookers on street corners, seedy brothels, and busty women.  This was the man standing for election of the 7th! 

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It made no difference of course that transactional sex, although illegal in most places, was as common as birthday parties and had been a staple of human society since its first settlements.  It made no difference that for Patterson, this period of sexual exploration was far more than an episode of gratification; and it made no difference whatsoever when compared with the man’s impeccable, honorable, and estimable life as an adult.  The campaign was as dirty, disreputable, and sickening as any in recent history.

Why, observers asked, would the politicians of the 7th take on a man sure to lose?  The answer was obvious.  Given the venal, unconscionable reputation of the 7th, this was an opportunity to take the seldom-taken high ground; to show that the District was a place of high morals and principle.
Needless to say that Herbert lost the election, a foregone conclusion.  More than anything it showed how corrupt the political process is.  The ruination of a good, principled, highly professional man means nothing.  The dirtiest ward politics of Chicago in the 20s and 30s are nothing compared to the high stakes affairs of today.

To his credit, Herbert Patterson took his defeat honorably.  What better way to display honor than in a campaign against a dishonorable opponent?  He demurred when asked to run again.  Despite his fortitude and good will, the campaign for the 7h was brutalizing and discouraging. 

Ah, Yale, he often thought.  What wonderful years.

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