Don’t cry for me, New Jersey

By Jane Chastain

In all my years covering politics, I’ve never seen a worse “swan song” than the one delivered this week by New Jersey’s Robert Torricelli. The self-aggrandizing of the disgraced first-term United States senator caught with his hand in the cookie jar, shaking down a constituent seeking political favors, was mind-boggling.

He finally did the right thing and he blew it! Not since Madonna’s rendition of the hallmark song from “Evita” have I witnessed anything quite as pitiful. My apologies to Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber, but I could not resist taking a few liberties with the beautiful song they wrote for Argentina’s former first lady and salt and peppering it with Torricelli’s own words.

Don’t cry for me New Jersey
The truth is I never left you (voluntarily)

“Thirty years have passed. I’ve loved almost every moment.”

All through my wild days
“I fought for everything I believed in with every fiber in my body.”

My mad existence
“I have witnessed friends build families and business, sometimes fortunes and I never had any regret. They lived the life that they wanted. I’ve had the life that I wanted.”

I kept my promise
“Somewhere tonight in Bergen County, if a woman is beaten, she fears for her child, she’ll spend the night in a center that I created for abused children so they can be safe. … Some child in Bergen Country will play in a park that I funded and land that I saved. Somewhere, all over New Jersey, some senior citizen, who doesn’t even know my name and nothing about what we’re doing today, will live in a senior center that I helped to build.”

Don’t keep your distance
“I’m in a debate with a faceless foe that I cannot find, minds I cannot change.”

As for (my ill-gotten) fortune,
“While I have not done the things that I have been accused of doing, I most certainly have made mistakes.”

And as for fame
(In his 20-minute speech he dropped a total of 13 names) “I think about all the trophies in my life …”

I never invited them in
“President Clinton called several times today from Great Britain.”

Though it seemed to the world they were all I desired
“The phone line wasn’t the best, but I could hear his voice crack. I admire that man so much.”

They were all illusions
“In a strange irony of life, control of the Democratic majority of the United States Senate is now at issue …”

They are not the solutions they promised to be
“And I am a part of that issue.”

The answer was here all the time
“If I can’t be heard then someone else must be heard. I have asked attorneys to file with the Supreme Court of the United States motions to have my name removed from the General Election ballot for the United States Senate.”

I love you and hope you love me
“I am grateful beyond words to have been able to serve my country that I love so deeply.”

Don’t cry for me New Jersey
“You gave me the only life I ever wanted.”

Before you wipe all those tears from your eyes, consider this: As a member of Washington’s ruling class for 20 years, Torricelli can retire at the ripe old age of 51 with the best health plan money can buy and a $74,000 a year pension. Given his life expectancy, he likely will receive another $4.7 million in payments from the hard-working taxpayers of this country.

Please, good citizens of New Jersey, don’t be fooled by all the things he claims to have done for your state. Although he takes credit for them, he did not build those hospitals, parks and senior citizen centers. You did.

And, you paid at least three times as much for these things as you should have through a giant Ponzi scheme, created and maintained by the ruling class. It works like this: You send your dollar to Washington. Torricelli and his buddies take some off the top to give to their friends in the form of payments and tax breaks, in return for large campaign contributions and other favors. The remainder is funneled through several layers of bureaucracy and your state gets back 25 cents.

For the past 10 years, the non-partisan National Taxpayers Union has been grading our congressmen and senators on their spending records. Torricelli has received five Ds and five Fs.

The very independent Citizens Against Government Waste reports that, during his Senate tenure, he is responsible for over $140 billion worth of pork barrel projects.

Don’t cry for Robert Torricelli, New Jersey. Cry for yourself.