Is Bob Menendez the type of public servant we want?

MIAMI – An arrogant and shameless Bob Menendez appeared in Fox News this past Sunday. It was his first televised interview since the federal government indicted him on 14 counts of bribery, fraud and personal enrichment. During his TV appearance the senator reminded of Muhammad Ali’s style in the ring – just not beautiful, and definitely without the bee’s sting. Menendez was evasive and when he did answer questions, it was with comments meant to mislead – most half-truths or outright lies, and all having little to do with a reality he seems not willing to face.

It was just another example of why Menendez should step down. An honest person who has read the indictment (you can read it here) need not be a lawyer to deduce that Menendez is not fit to serve the public – especially in such a lofty and powerful position as his.

I call him unfit to serve whether he is eventually found guilty or not. His lifestyle, and how he comes about it, is not what we should aspire for in a public servant. As CNN’s Alexandra Jaffe wrote when covering the indictment, “One thing, at least, seems clear: Everybody should be so lucky to have a friend like Salomon Melgen.”

Melgen, the south Florida ophthalmologist indicted together with Menendez on corruption charges, is now facing even more trouble. On Tuesday (April 14) he was again indicted, this time on Medicare fraud. The not so good doctor was still in a Palm Beach jail as I wrote this. He is considered a flight risk… When reading the report of the second Melgen indictment I was reminded of the old saying: “Birds of a feather…”

Did Menendez choose Fox News intentionally or by happenstance? Fox, as most everyone knows, will pact with the devil to make President Obama look bad. It may also have facilitated taking the focus away from Menendez and more on the president. But back to the Menendez Fox News interview.

A friend wrote of Menendez’s evasiveness on his corruption charges in an indignant email after watching the interview. Here’s what he wrote: “You’ll see that he [Menendez] dodges the corruption charges by saying that ‘the prosecutors take snippets of story to make their case’ and then lists all kinds of good things he has done for the state of New Jersey. Well, those good deeds do not balance out or wipe out the corruption charges, which are well described and itemized in the long indictment. The charges are not ‘snippets of a story’ but well documented findings that must stand on their own, not compared with good deeds for New Jersey, or kindness to puppies, or frequent attendance to church. One has nothing to do with the other.”

Also, in the interview, as Menendez is dodging the corruption charges, Chris Wallace, the interviewer, mentions that there are those who say the indictment (and here Wallace admits that there is no evidence) is part of an Obama administration plan to rid themselves of Menendez because of his stances on Cuba and Iran, which are contrary to the president’s.

An honest Menendez should have answered that although the Justice Department was completely wrong with his indictment, blah, blah, blah, the fact is the investigation against him had begun years before the Cuba and Iran situation had come to a forefront as they are now. Instead, what does Menendez do? He answers: “I cannot imagine that an administration, this or any other, would go to such lengths and undermine our constitutional democracy.” In other words, he leaves open the possibility.

Once he rid himself of the corruption question, Menendez zeroes in on Cuba. There’s a point that he says that Obama is “giving Cubans international recognition.”

Senator Menendez served as chairman of the powerful Senate Foreign Relation Committee. Menendez knows damn well that Cuba does not need President Obama or Bob Menendez to be recognized internationally. At that point the interviewer should have asked, “How can a country with little or no international recognition receive such overwhelming support in the United Nations on a yearly basis for decades now?”

Menendez goes on to say that Obama is going to “infuse their [Cuba’s] economy with money.” What? Misleading again… First, anyone who has kept up with the U.S. Cuba relationship knows that even in the aftermath of natural disasters, Cuba has refused to accept charity from the U.S. And again, if Menendez was honest he would have mentioned how much money the U.S. has wasted in support of money-hungry and ineffective dissidents on the island, and the hundreds of millions flushed down the toilet with programs like Radio and TV Marti – both of which he has supported. All programs aimed at regime change, where Menendez should have added, which have failed miserably at the expense of the American public.

Heaven knows what will be the end of the Bob Menendez saga. It is why I insist – whether you are, or are not, a Menendez fan – one read the indictment and the reports on the facts of the case. After one has finished reading and investigating, all I then ask is that you be honest with yourself. Mind you, I’m not asking you to find him guilty or not – that’s for the courts to decide. All I ask is the question I keep repeating: Is this the kind of public servant we want to lead us in Washington?

Álvaro Fernández, Progreso Weekly
April 16, 2015

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