Congressman David Wu has served the residents of the first congressional district since 1998. I can still recall the first time I met Congressman Wu. It was at Tigard High School in my government and civics class in a talk put on by the ever informative and thoughtful Mr. Calpin. Congressman Wu talked to us about the issues and about being our representative and fighting for us in Washington D.C. Over the last nine or ten years I have had many opportunities to meet with my congressman and discuss the issues I thought were important and to give and get feedback on ideas.
Tonight he came before the Washington County Democrats and apologized to us for the last several weeks of media attention he has garnered for his actions both personal and professionally. We very rarely hear our public officials apologize or admit being wrong about anything. Often we are told that private matters are just that and they shouldn't have to apologize for actions unrelated to constituents. I think Congressman Wu did the right thing about coming forward and apologizing. It takes a lot of courage to apologize publically in our day and age.
Living in the age where it seems the public has a right to know everything; I feel Mr. Wu has been very straightforward with us without having to go into too much detail about his personal matters that are best left between him and his doctors. The question that I am left with is: Does Congress have an army of trained therapists and mental health specialists that are available to members when they feel the need to seek help? The U.S. Senate has a Chaplin. When matters of faith come up senators have someone on site to talk with. Perhaps there should be a therapist or counselor on site as well?
Many professions would probably benefit to healthier and more productive employees if they had regular access to mental health specialists. Think of the stress teachers, public safety workers, and yes even members of congress are having to cope with on a regular basis. These jobs are intensely public in nature, more so than many other professions. I hate to bring Star Trek up, but there was a reason Gene Roddenberry put a therapist on the Enterprise. Counselor Troi and her top notch team were responsible for looking after the mental well being of the crew of the Enterprise. How telling it is of the importance of a persons mental health that Troi was seated right next to the captain on the bridge instead of off on some lower deck far removed from sight.
We must be willing to stop judging individuals for seeking help. Wanting to be healthy cannot be perceived as being weak. Other members of congress have struggled with issues and have sought help of doctors. Congressman Wu mentioned former Congressman Patrick Kennedy last night. Mr. Kennedy has also struggled with his mental health, and he was a fine Representative for the people of Rhode Island. I was glad to hear that Congressman Wu will be working with Mr. Kennedy in the future on a wide variety of mental health issues that he left unfinished when he retired from Congress.
People will still have questions even after he is done apologizing. I am sure some will bring this up in the next election. Politics are not nearly as forgiving as people are.