Career politicians can only dream of the kind of support Mike Lee gets for Worst Utahn | Private Eye | Salt Lake City Weekly

Career politicians can only dream of the kind of support Mike Lee gets for Worst Utahn 

Private Eye

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As everyone knows, Erin Mendenhall was recently re-elected mayor of Salt Lake City.

Her leading opponent, former Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson (who was full of vim and vigor at the City Weekly Best of Utah Party on Nov. 30, which he attended as winner of Utah's Best Radical award) has already announced he's finished running for political office.

So, with Anderson not in the frame—and few viable Salt Lake City mayoral candidates on any hill or horizon—is it too early to proclaim Mendenhall as "mayor for life" of this fair city?

Of course, time will tell if that scenario plays out. So often during a politician's second term (and beyond) scandals emerge, nefarious alliances are both made or revealed, and the citizenry starts to look around and compare promises to results.

This usually dovetails with the rise of a newly ambitious candidate, one willing to point to any foible—no matter how weak that foible may be—on which to clamp a campaign upon, assailing the incumbent at every turn as being weak, incompetent and lacking the real vision only a newcomer can bring to the table. That's because nearly all newcomers have nothing to bring to the table at all except criticism.

The thing is, it works. It works so well that the game becomes not to make a city, county, state or country better via the political office held but, instead, to simply get elected and then stay there come hell or high water.

The voting electorate is far more in tune with what's wrong than it is to what's right. It hears the squeaky wheel of woe, but it seldom tunes into the silent sounds of success. Pretty soon, with all those political birds chirping out bad news, the public starts to believe things really are terrible when they actually may not be so bad at all.

It's at times like these that things get quite interesting. We are all pretty sick and tired of lifelong politicians. Every board, council, legislative house or hall can boast members who are past their "use by" date. But they keep getting elected to matter how useless they are.

The fault for this is part party politics, part political inertia and part voter apathy. It's also emblematic of the romantic flaw of democratic government, being that our politicians are actually the best among us with noble intentions being their calling card. So, if they are in office, they must be good guys—right?

That may be what they teach us in grade school, and it may be true still that some individual politicians remain more civic-minded than wallet-minded. There are even some who remain genuinely good humans.

But their numbers are thinning, especially at the state and national levels. Is Joe Biden one of those? I really don't know, but I do know that one of his current detractors, Lindsey Graham, not so long ago said of Joe Biden that he "is as good a man as God ever created" and the "nicest man I ever met in politics."

Is Utah Sen. Mike Lee one of those? I seriously doubt it. He's gotten increasingly creepy the closer former President Trump comes to his court date. Like today—using his childish X/Twitter handle of @basedmikelee—Lee is ranting and posting videos of himself hectoring FBI Director Christopher Wray.

Wray has already told Congress that the FBI is aware of conversations among Jan. 6 insurrectionists, seemingly including those between Mike Lee and other so-called protectors of the Constitution. Lee seems to be worrying about it so much, he's losing his hair. In a couple of minutes, he'll be as loud and bald as Don Rickles but without the humor.

He is not alone in his umbrage. Other human panic buttons like Sens. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Josh Hawley, R-Missouri, are also screaming at Wray, making haughty claims about the Fourth Amendment and how our rights against unreasonable search and seizure et al are being infringed upon.

You tell me what's worse: A person who spent 14 hours a day trying to find a way to unravel a fair election and upend a republic? Or the method by which that person was caught?

In the 1950s, a U.S. Senate committee (chaired by future President John F. Kennedy) was formed to determine which U.S. senators had been the most outstanding up to that time. After a year of study and consultation, the committee released their "famous five" including Robert La Follette, Robert Taft, Henry Clay, Daniel Webster and the most outstanding of all, John C. Calhoun.

I'd be remiss in failing to note that I am related to Calhoun, his middle name being Caldwell, my grandmother's maiden name. I'd also be remiss in not pointing out that I don't consider that relationship a high honor, as Calhoun was a slave owner and pro-slavery. The wild-haired Calhoon should be the GIF explaining that being outstanding and being good do not require alignment.

Mike Lee is neither good nor outstanding. His failure in both columns remains a drum worth beating.

I wish Lee had attended City Weekly's Best of Utah party, as Rocky did. Same with Mendenhall. I would've been nice to them both.

Someday, I'd like to meet Lee, the man who received more votes from our readers for the "Worst Utahn" category than anyone ever has received for any other award—getting more votes all by himself than many of the combined nominees in entire Best of Utah categories got.

Lee isn't without his fans—Lucifer, Beelzebub, Elmer Fudd and the lot—so it's not unheard of for certain of his tribe to sing his praises, such as, "Mike Lee doesn't eat children." But, can they prove that?

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About The Author

John Saltas

John Saltas

John Saltas, Utah native and journalism/mass communication graduate from the University of Utah, founded City Weekly as a small newsletter in 1984. He served as the newspaper's first editor and publisher and now, as founder and executive editor, he contributes a column under the banner of Private Eye, (the original... more

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