2004-11-05 / Community

The Vagaries Of Being A Rockaway Republican:

‘Irregularities: Tidal Flows And Politics Along The Rockaway Shore’
A Wave Review By Howard Schwach

Stuart Mirsky, The Wave’s columnist who regularly writes “The Rockaway Irregular” has penned a compilation of his work over the past ten years and has had it published in book form as “Irregularities: Tidal Flow and Politics Along The Rockaway Shore.”

Why would anyone want to read a self-published compilation of columns that have already run in local weeklies such as The Wave?

Let me count the reasons.

If you are interested in either Rockaway history or Rockaway politics from the mid-1990’s until today, the book might interest you.

If you are a staunch Republican and you want to see just what happened to your party on a local level, this might be the book for you.

If you are a staunch local Democrat and you want to see just how weak the other side really is, take a look at this book.

Or, if you are related to Mirsky, you definitely should buy the book.

For all of the others, it’s buyer beware.

Mirsky is a nice guy with lots of experience. He was, for many years, with the city’s Department of Health. In 1998, Mirsky self-published “The King of Vinland’s Saga,” a novel about Vikings and Indians in the eleventh century.

In 2002 he retired from his city job to focus full-time on both fiction and social commentary.

“The Vikings” satisfied the fiction side of his soul. The Rockaway Irregular satisfies the social commentary side.

Mirsky is a Republican through and through and much of his work reflects that fact.

“Throughout the sixties, my political sensibility was shaped by the Kennedy presidency and the sense of what it could have been, what I was convinced it would have been had not an assassin’s bullet ended it so abruptly and with such drastic effect upon the nation,” he writes in the book’s introduction. “I supported Lyndon Johnson as Kennedy’s rightful heir thereafter but, with many of my generation, soon turned against him as the Vietnam War began to spin out of his control.” It is hard for me to understand how the war in Iraq, which is now spinning out of control much like Vietnam in the 1960’s, can be supported by a person who changed his entire political philosophy because of his opposition to that war forty years ago, but I digress from the review.

“In the early nineteen-nineties, in the wake of my political shift and as the first Bush presidency came under increasing fire by its political opponents and the media, I found myself becoming more interested in local political concerns,” he writes.

He wrote first for “The Peninsula News,” and, when that paper folded and some time had passed, for “The Wave.”

His first chapter is entitled, “All Politics Is Local.…Unless It Isn’t.”

In that chapter he talks about a Republican rebirth in Rockaway centered on the election of Al Stabile as City Councilman, who, Mirsky says, “won an upset victory against a twenty-five year Democratic incumbent remains a textbook example of how and where political leaders ought to start: by listening and paying attention to their constituents’ concerns.”

He writes of Republican candidates such as Tom Swift and John Baxter and what might have been should they have been elected.

Of course, from one resident’s perspective, there are lots of things that Mirsky left out of the equation.

First of all, Stabile beat Walter Ward near the end of Ward’s life. Most of those who knew him urged him not to run, but the Council was his life. It is doubtful that Stabile would have beaten a younger, more energetic, less geriatric contender.

Secondly, Stabile was the worst legislator ever to represent Rockaway. Not arguably the worst. Not perhaps the worst. The worst! He pulled out of his Rockaway office shortly after his election and never looked back, refusing even to come to Rockaway to receive awards from civic groups looking to gain his favor.

In addition, neither Tom Swift nor John Baxter were ever serious contenders.

Swift, who is now deceased, was a very nice guy, dedicated to his party and to the community. He had, however all of the charisma of an empty glass of water.

Baxter is, well, Baxter. He now claims that he has brain damage due to his 2001 attack by attorney Howard Sirota, but there are many in the community who believe that his condition goes much further back then that.

When Baxter finally did run for elected office, the city council seat once held by Stabile, he did so under the banner of the Independence Party and he got about 300 votes.

Mirsky’s book moves from the good old days of Stabile to this week’s election for President, always pointing out the strengths of the Republicans and the calumny of the media.

Today, Mirsky is one of the founding members of the Rockaway Republican Club. Those who join him in the club will love his book. It can be ordered directly from Xlirbis Corporation at 1-888-795-4274, by Email at orders@Xlib ris.com or on the web at www.Xlibris.com.

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