On a personal level, it's hard to dislike Charles Walker.
Politically? Hated him. Lying, bullying, manipulative, criminal blowhard. But personally? Like most successful politicians, Walker came off as one heck of a nice guy, and talking to him never failed to be interesting - fun, even.
I often wonder about the friendly-guy side of Walker, the former state Senate majority leader jailed at the Estill, S.C., Federal Correctional Institution.
Just as a human being, what must it be like to have 10 years to ponder that self-inflicted fall? This past week we got another glimpse at Walker's slide to degradation: He's been reduced from being a man who moved money and legislation through the halls of the Georgia Capitol, to acting as his own jailhouse lawyer.
Even if anyone is tempted to feel sorry for the felon convicted on 147 federal counts of fraud and conspiracy, though, it would be hard to stifle an eye-roll when reading the petition he filed last week to have his 2005 sentence overturned.
When Walker refers to himself as "a victim of selective politically motivated prosecution," it immediately reminds me of the comedy routine in which Ron White complains about the cops who arrested him for drunken driving.
"That's profiling," White scowls with mock indignation. "I know for a fact they were stopping everyone who was driving on that sidewalk."
Likewise, unless Walker can names other politicians who ripped off charities, defrauded customers and filed false tax returns and weren't locked up, he's probably going to have a tough time proving "selective prosecution."
However, perhaps the most laughable allegation in Walker's appeal is his contention that the lines of his Senate seat were redrawn to defeat him after the 2000 census, when his district changed from 65 percent majority black to 51 percent black.
Anyone with even a shred of political history has to howl at that leg-puller - because Walker redrew his own seat that year! He was so overconfident of his ability to win re-election that he moved black voters to the next-door district of his nemesis, state Sen. Don Cheeks, in an effort to defeat him.
The ploy backfired; Walker lost, and Cheeks then switched to the Republican Party after easily winning re-election, setting the stage for the GOP takeover of the Legislature.
After all this time we find that Walker was really out to get himself, and succeeded. But I guess if he can act as his own attorney now, it's not too far-fetched to believe he was serving as his own political enemy then.
Speaking of being your own enemy, meet Jim Stachowiak.
Stachowiak, of Martinez, is one of those black-helicopter-conspiracy types. He once tried to start his own militia, made a failed run for Grovetown City Council, served very briefly with the Augusta State University Department of Public Safety and now, among other things, has an Internet radio talk show.
Want to know more? Google him for an eyeful.
But wacky as Stachowiak might be, Columbia County cops had no business arresting him on election day, Nov. 4. The Augusta District Attorney's Office agreed when they recently dismissed his disorderly conduct charge.
Stachowiak, in essence, was arrested for being a jackass in public. According to witnesses, he visited a polling place wearing a politically charged T-shirt, rode around the parking lot with an upside-down American flag flying from his car, and "ranted" to a woman about his political views.
The woman was frightened and called the cops. Rather than just telling him to get lost, the cops locked him up.
Dumb move. It gave Stachowiak the sort of attention he craves, and will forever and a day allow him to triumphantly claim he was locked up for his political beliefs.
Worst of all, it's just wrong. Being a jerk isn't against the law. If it was, we'd rapidly run out of jail space.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to barry.paschal at newstimesonline.com.)
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