A few minutes ago, I received a phoney-baloney telephone solicitation for the Senate Democratic Campaign Committee. I have no idea if it was a scam to get me to contribute money by credit card to some false address, or a move made solely to discredit Sen. Arlen Specter by some desperate adherent of Democratic challenger Joe Sestack or Republican challengers Pat Toomey or Peg Luksik, but, whatever it is, it stinks to high heaven and should be thoroughly investigated.
I was busy with other things when the self-proclaimed Democratic Senate Campaign Committee caller contacted me, and I promptly told him I no money to contribute. He said I didn't have to contribute today, and he would be glad to send a pledge card to make a contribution at a later time. So far, so good.
Is Cambridge, Massachusetts, the storied home of Harvard University, the new Selma, Alabama? Is there a racial backlash in Cambridge--long considered a bastion of liberalism--against having both a black governor and a black President simultaneously? Will liberalism in Massachusetts die when Ted Kennedy does? Will the late Boston anti-busing crusader Louise Day Hicks prove to the patron saint of 21st Century Massachusetts?
I am certain I am not alone in thinking about these kinds of questions in light of the recent news that the eminent Harvard Black Studies Professor Henry Louis Gates has been arrested for disorderly conduct after vehemently protesting his interrogation for breaking into his own home, a horrible nightmare in a land where the belief that one's home is one's castle is widespread.
From press accounts in the Washington Post and elsewhere, it appears that a prisoner already in jail for attacking two women joggers in the same park where Chandra Levy was killed, in the same year she was killed, and close to the same time she was killed, will soon be charged in her murder. The new emerging conventional wisdom is that her lover, then-Congressman Gary Condit, had nothing to do with her murder.
The allegations and insinuations of Condit's involvement in the murder--from the National Enquirer to the mainstream media--rested essentially on Condit's reluctance to detail his sexual history with Levy and other women despite a marriage of long standing. Condit clearly had things he wanted to hide or obscure, and therefore he was unable to clear himself in the media-driven court of public opinion.
Two days ago, I wrote a well-received diary here compairing the passionate intensity of Dave From Queens,with thatof other famous stormy petrels from Queens: Republicans David Horowitz, the John Sununus, father and son, Governor and Senator, Justice John Scalia, and Democrats Mario and Andrew Cuomo, Governor and Attorney General, and Geraldine Ferraro.
I have since learned that Attorney General Eric Holder also comes from Queens, and that Dave's biggest media hit was generating a national controversy of sorts over whether or not ESPN dubbed in applause when President George W. Bush showed up at a sporting event, and received the usual reaction towards politicians at such events: loud boos. Dave's single-handed creation of what might be called Applausegate places him among the great political pranksters of modern times, right up there with Richard Nixon's nemesis Dick Tuck.
The recent death of Dave From Queens, David Weintraub, Esq., at 37, a man whose passion led him to trail Joe Lieberman in a Bush face mask, confront Sean Hannity by calling in repeatedly and accosting him during a book tour, and engage in conflict here, leads me to note what some probably consider obvious: trees grow in Brooklyn, but passion grows in Queens.
As one who spent the first three years of his life in Queens, I have paid attention to those who are from Queens: Republicans such as David Horowitz, both Governor John Sununu and his son, Senator John Sununu, and Justice John Scalia; Democrats such as Mario and Andrew Cuomo, and Geraldine Ferraro.
There are no shortage of ordinary political figures from Queens also--my good friend Cliff Wilson, the Democratic County Chair in Delaware County, Pennsylvania who backed Obama in the primary, for instance, was a Queens state legislator as a young man--but the passionate intensity of the most prominent is striking.
Now that the failed nomination of Senator Judd Gregg as Secretary of Commerce has called renewed attention to the importance of who runs the census, a bureau in the Commerce Department, it is time for the Obama Administration to intensify the search for a U.S. Census director.
In the past, census directors have generally been low-key bureaucrats. But this time, it would be good if that were not the case.
A big-name director of the U.S. Census would call renewed attention to it, and make being counted in the U.S. Census a major topic of discussion around the country. It would enable local grass-roots efforts, and give the army of short-term census workers a real espirt de corps.
There are no entitlements in American politics.
No one has a right to a Cabinet position.
But the Obama Administration needs people to sell and administer its policies. It helps, as Judd Gregg showed, to have people who agree with the policies. It helps, as Tom Daschle showed, to have people whose exclusive focus has been on the good of the whole, and not self-enrichment. It helps, as Bill Richardson showed, to have people whose need to raise money does not cause a strategy of appearing to be for sale.
On April 1, 2010, the key question in America will be how many people live in each housing unit, and with what vigor they are counted.
Some people will help this process along by promptly filling out the questionnaires sent to them. Others will help by calling the Census Bureau and saying they never got the form and it should be mailed anew.
But still others need a personal visit, or more than one personal visit to agree to cooperate. And then there are some people who just will not cooperate, whose information has to be guessed at by neighbors who tell whatever they know.
The decision of Pennsylvania Club for Growth Leader Pat Toomey, a former Republican Congressman from the Lehigh Valley, to forego a second primary race against Arlen Specter after almost beating him in 2004 is great news for Specter and bad news for the Pennsylvania Democratic Party.
While it is possible that someone else may emerge to challenge Specter from the right, it is likely that the combination of Obama's decisive Pennsylvania victory, the current 13-6 Democratic Congressional Delegation in Pennsylvania make-up in districts drawn by Rick Santorum and the Republican National Committee, the landslide defeat of Santorum by current U.S. Senator Bob Casey, and the Democratic takeover of the state house of representatives in the 2006 and 2008 elections all work to reinforce Specter's message to the Republicans: no one significantly to his right can win in Pennsylvania.
Governor David Paterson's prolonged and intensely public process of deciding whom to appoint to the U.S. Senate did not put the candidates in the best light, but Caroline Kennedy's difficulty in answering questions about public policies to the satisfaction of critics in the news media and elsewhere does not take away from the incisive and probing intellect she has demonstrated in writings, speeches, and her assignments with Barack Obmama, Michael Bloomberg, and various Kennedy family organizations.
Some people like having questions thrown at them. I remember attending an early fundraiser for John Edwards before he had decided to be a 2004 Presidential candidate in which he pleaded with attendees to ask him questions. I also remember an early 1984 dialogue with Philadelphia Mayor Wilson Goode and fellow Pennsylvania legislators, in which I hesitated to ask him a question because of an issue's complexity and obscurity, and he pushed me to frame my concerns as a question for him to answer.
The likely appointment of Kirsten Gillibrand, now beginning her second term as a Congresswoman from upstate New York, by Governor David Paterson is reminiscent of the last Senate appointment by a Governor of New York: the appointment of conservative New York Congressman Charles Goodell to replace the assassinated Sen. Robert F. Kennedy in 1968 by Governor Nelson Rockefeller.
Gillibrand is considered to be a centrist or conservative Democrat, supporting both the National Rifle Association and the war in Iraq. Goodell was similarly positioned in the right wing of the Republican Party.
At 78--79 on Lincoln's Birthday a month from now--Arlen Specter is on the cusp of clinching the Republican nomination for a sixth six year term in the Senate. The man once the target of the Republican right in Pennsylvania and around the nation is slowly morphing into the indispensable ally of the Republican right for the 2010 election.
With the Republican Party now down to 41 seats in the U.S. Senate, Republican Senators around the country are bailing out. Kay Bailey Hutchinson, 65, and Sam Brownback, 52, are running for Governor of their respective states of Texas and Kansas.
Three Republican Senators are just retiring, not wanting to explain why they were solid Bush votes or why they are relevant in 2010. They are, in order of recency of retirement announcements, George Voinovich, 72, of Ohio, Kit Bond, 69, of Missouri, and Mel Martinez, 62, of Florida. I am looking for Democrats to win all three of the above seats, and I would not be unduly surprised if Democrats won one or both of the Texas and Kansas seats as well.