By Dave Trecker
Piling on is a football term.
It means jumping on the ball carrier when he is on the ground, after he has been tackled and the play is over.
It’s illegal, of course, and carries a 15-yard penalty.
The term also applies to politics repeated attacks on a wounded politician, one writer after another slamming someone when he (or she) is down.
The Naples Daily News is showing how it’s done.
Sensing Republican blood, the Daily News has been piling on Rep. Trey Radel. One column after another news article after still more editorials. Day after day.
It’s not enough that the man has an addiction in the case of Radel, two addictions that threaten his health and family. He must be discredited. He is, after all, a Tea Partier. And Christian charity stops at the political door.
Our primary concern, as Radel constituents, should be whether his addiction impaired his judgment as a legislator. No one has come forward with any evidence that it did.
Ah, you say, but there’s the matter of character. No one wants to be represented by a cocaine user. That’s true.
And it’s true that readership must be informed.
But readership will soon tire of the endless coverage finding another attack columnist or a new angle to keep the story on the front page.
And the wagons will circle if not around Radel, at least around the House seat he holds. The conservative voters of Southwest Florida are not about to give up a seat to a Democrat.
Piling on is almost always counterproductive. As a reader, you become weary of the repetition. Then you sympathize. Then you forgive.
Americans have an infinite capacity to forgive. They forgave President Bill Clinton, even after impeachment (“I did not have sex with that woman.”) They forgave the womanizing of President Jack Kennedy, remembering instead his speeches and his martyrdom.
Will the voters forgive Trey Radel? Eventually. But they won’t reelect him. There are too many good Republicans waiting in the wings, candidates without Radel’s baggage. Chauncey Goss comes to mind. And Byron Donalds.
Will Radel resign? As of this writing, he hasn’t. But his political career is essentially over.
I, for one, won’t be sorry to see him go.
But another week or two of Daily News harangues may change my mind.
Someone needs to throw the flag.
There’s been enough piling on.