When U.S. Rep. James Moran Jr., a Virginia Democrat, announced in January that he would not seek re-election to Congress, I (along with every other sensible Democrat) breathed a sigh of relief.

Only a podiatrist or a contortionist could admire Mr. Moran. A podiatrist because Mr. Moran's feet must be perpetually clean and a contortionist because the cleansing is the result of the congressman routinely inserting his feet into his mouth.

I should have known that Mr. Moran could not simply and gracefully depart the public limelight without saying something so insensitive it would serve to bolster his reputation as one of the most embarrassing members of Congress over the last two decades. Mr. Moran recently stated that people who serve their country should be fairly compensated. Mr. Moran was not referring to members of our armed forces or government employees when he made that comment. Instead, he was complaining of the insufficiency of the $174,000 annual salary paid to the elected members of Congress.

If Mr. Moran had paused, for even the briefest of moments before whining about his salary, perhaps some shred of perspective or common sense would have allowed him to comprehend how his comments would be received by the serving members of the United States Army, Air Force, Navy, Coast Guard and Marines or the various police officers, firemen, paramedics, teachers, nurses and other employees of the federal, state and local governments of this country. Almost none of the members of those groups, all of whom work diligently in service of their country, earn nearly as much as Congressman Moran.

How incredibly detached from the real world Mr. Moran is. When millions of Americans are unable to find employment and would welcome a paycheck of any size, Mr. Moran is offended by being paid $174,000 a year for his "service" to our country. One would have thought Mr. Moran had no problem sitting in his Washington office (rent free) ordering his staff (not paid by him) to fulfill the duties he had been elected to address while he unabashedly luxuriated in the benefits and power of being a member of Congress. I am sure that every citizen of this nation who is struggling to survive in difficult financial circumstances would be more than willing to change places with Mr. Moran. I only wish that one of them could have done so many years ago.

Richard C.B. Woods, Baltimore

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