Rising Democratic star to watch: Rep. Robert Wexler

Written: 20 November, 2000

Time Magazine noted that, prior to the Monica Lewinsky scandal, Robert Wexler was an anonymous freshman in Congress. But during the scandal, Wexler bravely spoke out against the Republican-led impeachment proceedings against the President. "Wake up, America!" he warned. "They are about to impeach our president. They are about to reverse two national elections. They are about to discard your votes." A prophetic statement indeed considering that the Republicans currently are trying to stop handcounts in Congressman Wexler's own district of South Florida, which includes Palm Beach County.

While Republicans, at the time, attempted to present their case against Clinton as a matter of grave importance, Wexler spoke for the majority of Americans when he pointed out again and again how ridiculous the Republicans were being.

"The president had an affair," Wexler acknowledged. "He lied about it. He didn't want anyone to know about it. Does anyone reasonably believe that this amounts to subversion of government? Does anyone reasonably believe that this is what the founding fathers were talking about?"

While some Democrats roll over and play dead when Republicans attack them, Robert Wexler isn't afraid to fight back and defend his views. Some Democrats who are willing to fight may come across as too professorial, like Rep. David Bonior. Democrats too often come across as academic "egghead" types, even the fightin' ones. Robert Wexler doesn't conform to the "policy wonk" sterotype that afflicts many Democrats, and comes across as a likable regular guy who isn't afraid to make his points heard.

Some may think that Wexler is too partisan in his approach to be liked, but he comes across as a likable person, I think, even if one disagrees with his viewpoint. Last year, Rep. Wexler and Rep. Lindsey Graham, who were vocal foes during the impeachment proceedings, joined forces to support a tax cut bill. "I got to know Mr. Wexler through the hearings because we sat there for months yelling at each other," Rep. Graham said. And Wexler said: "I'm excited that this is a bipartisan effort and that two members of the Judiciary Committee have crossed party lines to do what is right for America."

If Al Gore does lose this election, perhaps Robert Wexler might be considered in the year 2004 as a possible Vice-Presidential candidate. Like Senator Joe Lieberman, Rep. Wexler is Jewish, which might help attract Jewish voters to such a ticket in the way that Sen. Lieberman did. As for foreign policy experience, Rep. Wexler is a member of the International Relations Committee in the House. "Congressman Wexler traveled with Secretary of State Madeline Albright on her Middle East Peace Mission, and was the only member of the House of Representatives present for the Wye River Peace Agreement." He has laid out five things we should do to bring about the downfall of Saddam Hussein, and has spoken out about other important international matters.

Recently Congressman Wexler stated that if George W. Bush becomes President simply because the Florida Secretary of State declares him to be so, without counting all the ballots, then Bush would be an illegitimate President. That's tough talk, and leads to the impression that indeed if Bush is elected, we can count on a man like Wexler to always remind Bush that he didn't win the majority of America's votes. If Gore loses, we'll still have someone fighting for us. We'll have a public servant that we can admire, a modern "profile in courage," Rep. Robert Wexler of Florida.