Marino recounts his turn at being drowned by swamp

U.S. Rep. Tom Marino, a Cogan Station Republican who represents much of our region, says he felt a “calling” to be the nation’s drug czar and had a plan to solve the opioid epidemic in the United States.

He had people on board from both major parties ready to help execute that plan, grounded in his experience as a district attorney and U.S. attorney.

Then that swamp known as the Washington power structure drowned him.

It started with a joint report from the Washington Post and 60 Minutes suggested a a bill he sponsored unnecessarily pumped more painkillers into parts of the country already in the middle of an opioid crisis.

Never mind that Marino viewed it as necessary legislation to control the pharmaceutical industry while serving those who legitimately had needs to be met.

Never mind that the bill had the unanimous backing of the House and Senate and was signed by President Barack Obama.

Some elected officials claimed to not be aware of the legislation’s implications, even though they were on record as voting for it. Marino told 60 Minutes he would be glad to interview with the program, but only if the full interview would be aired. They turned him down.

Turned on by the powerful politicians and labeled by what he calls a “hatchet job” from the mainstream media, Marino withdrew his name from drug czar consideration rather than put the Trump administration in a bad light.

He intends instead to seek another term in as a representative of the congressional district covering much of our region.

Marino recounted his episode with the political muck of Washington – which includes a portion of the media – at a Sun-Gazette editorial board meeting last week. While he has taken campaign contributions from the pharmaceutical industry, he hardly came off as a pawn of the industry and gets most of his campaign revenue from regular constituents of the district.

He was believable. He was at peace with what he was trying to accomplish with his legislation. And he was regretful that he won’t be able to fill the drug czar role he wanted.

Our lasting impression? When traditional Washington wants to stop something or someone from getting something done, substance takes a back seat to political machinations.

And that should infuriate all regular citizens, regardless of their political leanings.