Before I started this web site, I always heard about Cunningham, even before he moved his district from southern San Diego County north to where I live. I knew about his idiotic remarks but just wrote him off in the background and tried to ignore him.
Then in 1994 I heard an early opponent, Rita Tamerius (a nurse and also a veteran). She, her husband, and family researched old newspaper archives and the Congressional Record, and put together a brochure about Cunningham (1.8MB PDF). From the cover:
FLYING BELOW RADAR
What Your Congressman Doesn't
Want You to Know!
[Cartoon of Duke]
INSIDE: The Stealth Record of Your Congressman.
You Can’t Read This And Still
Vote For Randy “Duke” Cunningham.
Anyway, she criticized Cunningham using his own words, quoting from newspapers. What got me was how much of a hypocrite he was. He said he was for small government, but promoted all these expensive peacetime projects and spending in his own district. It compared what Cunningham said against special interests against his taking money from them. It also compared Cunningham’s words and actions for women, environment, crime, children & education, and seniors. The leaflet ended with a page full of quotes and a letter from Tamerius. She also said Cunningham was basically a stealth candidate of the religious right.
That got me interested, and I thought this should be better publicized and kept out there—it would make the basis for a good web page. I didn’t get around to it until two years later (August 1996), and I wrote a “spoof” webpage in the style that Lori Saldaņa used for her website about former Rep. Brian Bilbray. I wrote it as if the Duke was talking in confidence about himself. It started out as just one webpage, but later I split it into a dozen or so pages, as I found out more.
One early criticism from Duke’s “fans” was I making this stuff up, so I put the full text of relevant newspaper articles online (newspapers didn’t post articles in the 1990s), and later links. I was also criticized by another Cunningham fan for the foul language on the website. Ironically, that was mostly from Cunningham’s supporters and the Duke himself. I cleaned that up for a family audience (sorry for the automated censoring in these postings). Other critics tried to steer the argument from Cunningham to red herrings such as Clinton, Fonda, liberals, or whatever other off-topic subject that sets them off, but I wouldn’t bite. I don’t have a webpage about me, becaue it’s not about me either. Some also think the website is anti-military or anti-veteran, but it’s really not.
It has been suggested to me that this website was a lost cause, and it would have been if Duke’s shady real estate deal wasn’t uncovered by Marcus Stern and reporters started taking a second look with all of Cunningham’s other deeds.
A history professor I had years ago once said, when talking about the muckraking journalism of the early 1900s, that sunshine is the best cure for corruption. Expose it to the public and the cockroaches run away. In practice though, it’s hard to get the public’s attention.
—Dan Anderson, February 2006
Copyright © 1996-2006 Dan E. Anderson. All rights reserved.
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