Sometimes I wonder about Curt Weldon, the Republican congressman who represents Delaware County’s Seventh District.
Sometimes Weldon is serious. Sometimes he’s substantive. Sometimes he’s a bit wacky.
Those aren’t my words. Those are the words of the Unification Church, which sponsored the 2004 event at the Dirksen Senate Office Building.
Weldon, at first, denied he was present. Later, when a videotape was produced showing him there, he said he had left before the Rev. Moon was, well, deified.
My name is Rev. Moon, but you can call me God.
Now, that’s wacky.
Weldon went to Congress 20 years ago as a wunderkind, tapped by Delco’s Republican machine as an ideal candidate to defeat U.S. Rep. Bob Edgar, a liberal Democrat whom the Republican hierarchy hated. Make that hated and despised and loathed.
Weldon came close in 1984, losing to Edgar by a handful of votes. In 1986, Edgar quit the seat to run for U.S. Senate, clearing the way for Weldon, a former high school teacher and Marcus Hook mayor, to go to Washington.
The fireman’s friend
Weldon’s stated goal, upon arriving at the Capitol, was to represent the interests of volunteer fire companies and to help Boeing Vertol, the local defense contractor that is a big employer in the district. In other words, he would be a district man.
Since then, Weldon has expanded his horizons to include Eastern Europe, Russia, Libya, North Korea, and America’s intelligence community.
At times, he acts less like a congressman and more like a shadow secretary of state or head of the CIA.
Among Weldon’s notable forays into the world of spies is the Able Danger speech he made on the House floor last year.
In that speech, Weldon asserted that a secret intelligence program called Able Danger had fingered three of the 9/11 hijackers before the deed, but that the government failed to act on the information – thus losing a chance to prevent the attacks.
As my colleagues Chris Mondics and Steve Goldstein reported in these pages last week, no credible evidence has been found to verify Weldon’s Able Danger theory.
This has not dissuaded the congressman. In fact, just the other week, he said he had information from a reliable source that Osama bin Laden had died in Iran.
And so it goes.
Weldon has never been called on these activities in his home district because his seat has been secure and his opponents weak.
That has changed.
This year, Weldon is facing a Democratic opponent with a five-star resume. Joe Sestak Jr. is a Delco native and a graduate of Cardinal O’Hara High School, the U.S. Naval Academy, and Harvard University, where he got his master’s and Ph.D.
He was a career Navy man, retiring early this year with the rank of vice admiral. During his stint, he worked as a top official in the Pentagon and the White House.
He is smart, articulate, and primed to take a serious lunge at Weldon.
His basic message: It’s all well and good to be a globe-trotting congressman, but what about the folks at home?
As Sestak told me: “I understand his interest in Bosnia and Russia and North Korea and Libya, but Curt Weldon has to remember that national security begins at home. It comes from giving our people access to health care and education and economic prosperity.”
Sestak, 54, comes along at an interesting time in the ‘burbs, with voters drifting from Republican to Democratic, at least at the top of the ticket.
Now, Sestak is seeing whether that Democratic trend can trickle down to the congressional level.
It’s hard to beat incumbents, but if I were Weldon, this year, I’d show up less in Moscow and more in Marcus Hook.
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