After the hour-long interview that Carla and I did with Congressman David Wu last week, I decided to give it a few days to marinate - and to listen to all of you weigh in.
I went in to the interview hoping that Wu would address our questions clearly and fully, and that he'd be able to put to bed so many of the troubling questions swirling around him. But that just isn't the case.
I've really wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt. I've really wanted to believe that his bizarre behavior was nothing more than some mental health issues that he's now receiving treatment for. I've really wanted to believe that he's now telling us the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth (excepting for a reasonable zone of personal privacy.)
But Wu's statements just aren't adding up.
Especially in the light of the new report over the weekend - by the Oregonian's Janie Har and Charlie Pope. Their most recent reporting indicates that Wu was given four, not two, painkillers by the campaign donor on that Tuesday evening. The campaign staffer confiscated two of them, and Wu spent the next day badgering the staffer for those pills.
In our interview, Wu insisted that the whole story is out, saying "I'm not withholding stuff" from the public - and yet, here's another troubling wrinkle in the story. Especially given that this additional information suggests that taking the two pills wasn't a brief instance of poor judgment ("It was nuts!", said Wu), but rather that his poor judgment lasted at least overnight and into the next day. Worse, he didn't realize it was "nuts" when that staffer refused to turn over the pills and was forced to bring in the campaign manager to mediate.
And for a moment, let's consider (again) Wu's claim that he didn't know then - and doesn't know now - what the pills were. As Wu himself said in our interview, "the problem is, it's hard to find that plausible." He's right. It's not plausible, especially given this new wrinkle in the story.
I'm sorry, David Wu fans, but this isn't an instance of a guy in terrific pain making a momentary dumb choice and swallowing a couple of pills. This is over-the-top bad judgment that looks and feels a whole lot more like a drug addict refusing to recognize his problem. Keep in mind: It was just two days later, on that Thursday, that his staff tried to intervene with Wu while he was Central Drugs downtown, according to Willamette Week.
To be clear: I'm not a medical professional, and I have no idea if Wu is a drug addict. But this sure does look like it, and his evasive answers and failure to tell the whole story - even when invited to do so by a friendly publication - sounds like a refusal to take full responsibility for his actions.
This is quite obviously a personal tragedy. And if that were all that it was - and he'd told the whole truth from the start - well, my capacity for forgiveness is large. I'm not one who believes that elected officials are supposed to be morally superior role models for all of society. But Wu's behavior clearly impacted his staff's ability to do their jobs, and his ability to lead them.
Wu has said repeatedly that the most unfortunate aspect of this whole story is that the media have been talking about him - rather than the challenges that the people of Oregon are facing. But he's got only himself to blame for that. And unless Wu comes clean in a hurry, it'll soon be time to start looking for someone else to headline the Democratic ticket in the 1st Congressional District.