Dennis Shulman, a blind rabbi and psychologist, is running for congress against the most right-wing congressman in most of the country, Rep. Scott Garrett. Garrett, supported by far-right forces, helped kick a moderate Republican, Marge Roukema, out of the NJ-05, three terms ago.
Because the district was created to make a Democratic challenge virtually impossible, Garrett has gotten away with murder. He has been so extreme in his rightist agenda that even his fellow Republicans criticize and call him ' a nut." The latest person to do this was the political director of McCain's campaign.
Up until not too long ago there were few professionals who believed that Shulman had any chance at all.
However, Shulman is no ordinary challenger. Not by any means.
In an amazingly candid story in the NY Times, he gives his life story.
I will let this sweet man speak for himself.
“Look, my story is not a gimmick; it’s my life,” he said. “And my whole life, going blind as a child, growing up poor in Worcester, Mass., going to Brandeis and Harvard, how I do the things I do, has all been about solving problems. It’s the same way with my work as a psychologist and a rabbi. The major critique I have of Garrett is that he’s an ideologue; he’s not a problem solver. I am.”
Whatever happens in the race, Dr. Shulman, 58, has a pretty remarkable tale to tell. A nerve disorder was diagnosed when he was 5. It began costing him his sight until he was totally blind by the age of 15. He worked at a toy factory as a child, then graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Brandeis. He then received a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Harvard.
In 2003, he was ordained as a rabbi and published a book, “The Genius of Genesis: A Psychoanalyst and Rabbi Examines the First Book of the Bible.”
In college, he said, long before the law began addressing disabilities, he had to find his own way of taking tests, getting material to professors and navigating the Boston subway system. By comparison, life now offers unimaginable opportunities. John McCain may still be figuring out how to navigate the Web, but Dr. Shulman uses two computers.
The first, he said, is like a personal digital assistant that functions as “a talking Braille input/Braille output computer.” The other is a conventional laptop PC with a speech synthesizer.
“I bless this every time I go on,” he said, moving from one to the other as well as to a Braille printer in the basement office of his house. “I got my first personal computer with a speech synthesizer in 1983, and all of a sudden I went from not being able to read a daily newspaper to reading millions of them. Now, there are rabbis and psychologists out there who e-mail me if they can’t find something on the Web, and I’ll find it for them.”
None of that led him to politics. The past eight years did. He figures you do not need eyes that work to see what a nightmare the Bush years have been. His wife said that instead of wanting to throw his shoes at the television set, he should do something about it. So he decided to take on Mr. Garrett, who has represented the district since being elected in 2002 and has amassed one of the most conservative voting records in Congress. Mr. Garrett earned a rare 100 percent rating through 2007 from the American Conservative Union — with votes against stem cell research, against the reauthorization of the voting rights act and against aid to Katrina victims.
“It’s so out of step with this district,” Dr. Shulman said. “This is not the most conservative district in the United States of America. He speaks from the Republican playbook, and Americans are sick of the party playbook. I don’t have a playbook. Maybe they don’t put it in Braille.”
He spoke with another blind man, New York Gov. David A. Paterson, who helped him reach out to the sighted.
“When I won the primary, he called to support me, and we agreed that blindness is the new gay.”
Please. We are so close to winning this one and kicking Garrett out for ever.
Do the right thing. Give a few dollars, whatever you can spare. If you can volunteer for the GOTV so much better. At the present time Shulman is almost over the top in beating Garrett.
I gave. Will you?