Marty Chavez: The Good and the Political Stunt

We are all flawed human beings. Nobody is arguing that point. The better angels of our nature are in constant fistfight with our darker side.

But nobody sums up this psychological struggle more than Marty Chavez. At least no NM politician. Chavez is a veritable Willie Stark of conflicted good and evil. Okay, he’s no Willie Stark from All the King’s Men, but he certainly has a glimmer of the Stark ethical dichotomy going on. More of a glimmer than any current NM politician I can think of. And no, Manny Aragon doesn’t count anymore in my book.

Case in point: yesterday in the space of about six hours Marty goes from defending the human rights of “illegal” immigrants on a C-SPAN national call-in to demanding the city buy the downtown Icehouse strip club for $500,000 and turn it into a teen center. (Long boring “interactive” ad or $$ required both times)

In such a short space in time we get perfect examples of the two Martys:

  1. A truly compassionate guy who is defending a group of popularly vilified human beings on national public access television.
  2. An icky faux compassionate guy, politically grandstanding by spending an unnecessary $500k of city money so he can be publicly identified as against strip clubs and for teen centers.

He takes a brave stand, then not-so-bravely attacks the all-powerful strip club lobby. I read the Journal recap of his C-SPAN performance and thought “hey, I actually agree with Marty on something and find him honorable”. It was a strange, vaguely uncomfortable feeling, not so much from my agreement with him on an issue as from the impression that Marty is honorable.

Then I read the Icehouse idea and my internal comfort returned. Just as with Warren’s Willie Stark, when you look down deep, past the political bombast, with Marty Chavez it’s all about Marty Chavez. Plain and simple. And there’s something comforting about that, I suppose.

P.S.: I just found out a film remake of “All the King’s Men” is coming out very soon. Why? How can they top Broderick Crawford’s Stark or Mercedes McCambridge’s Sadie Burke. Ugh.


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