Alex McRae

The dirty truth

I was blessed with the best bunch of uncles that ever lived. They ranged from sophisticated gentlemen to no-nonsense farm boys, and each had a gift for storytelling that made family gatherings memorable.

My uncles had opinions about everything and never hesitated to share them. But they had one thing in common when it came to politics: they couldn’t stand phonies or hypocrites.

Especially my Uncle Roy. He was 100 percent Cajun, born and raised on the banks of Bayou Teche not far from New Iberia, La. He grew up with a shotgun in one hand and fishing pole in the other and was putting food on the family table before he could spell “groceries.”

Uncle Roy left school as soon as he was old enough to cut cane in the south Louisiana sugar fields. He had a knack for the business, and by the early 1930s, supervised a sugar cane crew in Clewiston, Fl. That’s where he met my Aunt Sallie, who was teaching ABCs to the local school kids.

Uncle Roy was a bayou-bred hellraiser who burned the candle at both ends and had more rough edges than a plank of hand-chopped cypress. He watched his manners around the ladies, but when the men got together to drink a few beers, he didn’t mince any words. 

Uncle Roy let you know exactly how he felt about anybody. The term SOB (spoken in full) was frequently invoked. But some of Uncle Roy’s opinions were surprising.

He thought the world of Oklahoma evangelist and faith healer Oral Roberts and loved to watch on TV as Roberts worked a crowd into a lather. Uncle Roy didn’t believe a syllable of what he called Roberts’ “mumbo-jumbo,” but he appreciated the preacher’s zeal and enthusiasm.

“You know he’s a (expletive deleted) fake,” Uncle Roy said, “but you gotta admire him ‘cause he’s so (expletive deleted) good at it.”

Politicians rarely rated so high in Uncle Roy’s opinion. 

By the time Roy Green was old enough to vote, Huey P. Long was running Louisiana. Huey’s faults were numerous and well-documented, but he promised to make “every man a king” and Uncle Roy believed that as long as Huey paved roads, built bridges and created jobs, he could do no wrong.

In Uncle Roy’s opinion, other politicians could do no right. He believed they were all cut from the same soiled diaper and filled with a soiled diaper’s contents.

He’d take one look (or listen) to a politician and say, “He’s full of BS.” (Uncle Roy did not abbreviate.)

Today, Uncle Roy would need a new term to describe the current members of the US Congress. The old-timers he despised cheated, lied, chased strippers and stuffed overcoats with $100 bills, but when caught, either admitted their transgressions or bragged about them.

Not any more. Political favors are bought and sold like ball game peanuts, and politicians routinely become millionaires by gaming the system in ways that anywhere else would rate jail time. All the while, they proclaim their innocence and never get called to account.

Corruption has never been more widespread in DC. And yet nothing ever changes and nothing ever gets fixed. 

Why? Because members of Congress would rather scream bloody murder and promise to investigate a complaint than risk their fortunes by doing something that might rock the boat. 

And while members of Congress wring their hands, diplomats are murdered abroad and IRS officials party like rock stars on the taxpayers’ dime.

Huey Long wasn’t perfect but at least he got the roads built. Today’s politicians aren’t interested in building anything but their net worth and future job prospects. 

My Uncle Roy used to say politicians were “full of BS.” By today’s standards, he was too kind.

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