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Every Family Has a Loser, Who Invited You?
by Mad Dog


It started with Abel, who had Cain, a brother who, in spite of murdering Abel still gets top billing whenever the boys are mentioned.
Most people have at least one loser relative. You know, someone like Uncle Donald who shows up for a wedding having not slept or showered in four days, especially unfortunate since itís his wedding. Or the nephew whoís the basis of a betting pool to see who in the family he hits up for a loan most often. Luckily, relatives like these are a personal problem we can pretty much ignore in between family affairs. Politicians, on the other hand, arenít as lucky. For them, a loser relative can be a very public liability.

   What brings this to mind is Michael Fairman. Heís the son-in-law of former Illinois Governor George Ryan, who is on trial for corruption. Fairman testified last week that Ryanís co-defendant, Lawrence Warner, loaned him $5,000 to help clear up some niggling gambling debts. Fairman canít quite remember if he ever paid it back, though he does recall filing bankruptcy shortly after having gotten the money. He also admits to having received $55,000 in Ryan campaign funds, for which he busted his butt. Well, if you call passing out a few fliers and putting up a sign or two butt busting. On the stand, Fairman admitted to a gambling addiction, drinking problems, ongoing financial disasters, and an inability to cut a deal with the D.A. like Ryanís four daughters did so he wouldnít have to testify and embarrass himself. Sons-in-law like him make a dad proud.

   It would be nice to say heís the exception, but heís actually the latest in a long, undistinguished line of loser relatives. It started with Abel, who had Cain, a brother who, in spite of murdering Abel still gets top billing whenever the boys are mentioned. Saddam Hussein had Uday and Qusay, Mitzi Shore had Pauly, and Lindsey Lohan has both of her parents. Iím telling you, itís rampant.


Just to prove that he had indeed reformed, he almost immediately turned around and got himself arrested for drunken driving. Somewhere, Franklin D. Roosevelt is thanking his lucky stars he was an only child.
   Politically speaking, loser relatives have been around for a long time. Lyndon Johnsonís brother Sam Houston Johnson was known to leak information to the press while drinking. Thatís why his brother stashed him in the White House where the Secret Service could keep an eye on him. Richard Nixonís brother Donald borrowed $205,000 from Howard Hughes to bail out his fast food restaurant. It folded a year later, he never repaid Hughes, and when his brother ran for president in 1972 he so trusted Donald that he had the Secret Service tap his phone. With a court order, Iím sure.

   A few years later, Jimmy Carter had his brother Billy to be proud of. After all, who wouldnít like to be the president of a world power and have a brother who puts his name on a brand of bad beer, accepts a $220,000 loan from Libya, writes a book called ďRedneck Power: The Wit and Wisdom of Billy CarterĒ without thinking the titleís an oxymoron, and ends up having to sell his house to pay off the IRS?

   Then thereís Bill Clinton, who had his half-brother Roger to contend with. He was arrested for cocaine possession while his brother was governor, embarrassed the family ó and nation ó by pretending to be a country singer, then was pardoned just before his brother left the White House. Pardoned for the drug bust, by the way, not the singing. Just to prove that he had indeed reformed, he almost immediately turned around and got himself arrested for drunken driving. Somewhere, Franklin D. Roosevelt is thanking his lucky stars he was an only child.


Itís moments like this that make me glad I have no plans to run for political office. Or for that matter, that no one else in my family does either. After all, itís hard to say which would be worse, having the loser relative or being him.
   Interestingly, there are no female relatives in this list. Okay, except maybe the Bush twins, Jenna and Barbara, who used fake IDs while in college to buy liquor, were caught drinking while underage, proceeded to go into hiding for four years, and then magically emerged reincarnated as The Darling Daughters. Maybe Dadís right that rendition can be a good thing.

   Thatís not to say theyíre the only loser relatives George Bush has. Brother Neil has the unique distinction of having demonstrated his loserness during two ó count Ďem, 2! ó administrations. First, while his father was president, the bank he was a director of, Silverado Savings and Loan, collapsed, costing taxpayers $1 billion. Once his brother became president, he let it be known that he had picked up the habit of sleeping with women who just showed up at his hotel rooms in Hong Kong and Thailand. While he was married. And then thereís the $2 million heís being paid by a computer chip company thatís backed by the son of a former president of China, this in spite of the fact that brother Neil has no background in the field and probably wouldnít know a computer chip from a cow chip.

   Itís moments like this that make me glad I have no plans to run for political office. Or for that matter, that no one else in my family does either. After all, itís hard to say which would be worse, having the loser relative or being him. Maybe I should pop open a Billy Beer, listen to a Roger Clinton CD, pretend Iím eating a Nixonburger, and think about it a while.

©2006 Mad Dog Productions, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
These columns appear in better newspapers across the country. Read them while pretending you don't know that loser relative.

 

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