2007-03-09 / Editorial/Opinion

From the Editor's Desk

Nobody Asked Me, But…(Political Edition)
Commentary By Howard Schwach

Commentary By Howard Schwach

Nobody asked me, but… Politicians in Congress want to bring home the bacon for their constituents, but there is some money that should be sacrosanct and free from political tampering, particularly the money earmarked for homeland security. It is clear that there are some cities and states that need the money for their protection and some that are just as clearly not at risk and should leave the money alone. Congressman Anthony Weiner, who represents a portion of Rockaway, has become something of the conscience of the Congress on this issue. He recently issued a report that pointed directly to the foolishness that goes on. Look at some of the places and programs that received the homeland security money in the past year: More than $200 thousand for security cameras for a fishing village in Alaska; $39 thousand for a county employee in Indiana to get to work; $55 thousand to protect Bingo halls from terrorists in Kentucky; $160 thousand for a Maryland city to buy eight large-screen plasma television sets; $7,348 for bullet-proof vests for dogs in Ohio; $30 thousand for a custom trailer to be used for a Texas mushroom festival and $3 thousand for a Texas trailer to be used for lawnmower drag races.

...Black politicians say they want black people to be treated just like everybody else. Yet, they seem to want Presidential candidate Barak Obama treated with kid gloves. State Senator Malcolm Smith and Lieutenant Governor David Patterson took Senator Hillary Clinton to task for comments she made about Obama in relation to David Geffen, formerly one of her largest supporters. Obama had better get some thicker skin. Being black does not mean that you're a protected species and you have to get out into the rough and tumble of the campaign. If you can say something about a white candidate, there is no reason you can't say the same thing about a black, Asian or Hispanic candidate as well.

...In their past elections, both Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney, Republicans running in fairly liberal states, made some points about issued such as abortion and gay rights. Now, however, with both looking to the Neocons to vote for them. They are both quick-stepping to the right to meet the needs of those conservative voters, many of whom are to the right of Genghis Kahn on those issues. It's clear that some politicians will go to any extent, even changing long-held views, to get some votes.

... Speaking of that, values conservatives don't like to be called "Neocons" any more than "Progressives" like to be called "Liberals." They prefer "Social Conservative." A rose by any other name! Whatever they're called, however, they are seeking a candidate that they can trust to champion their values in the coming Presidential election. And that's important at least to the Republican Party, because the right wing of the party seems to have kidnapped its agenda. There are certain seminal "values" issues that mean everything to this group, and none of the people who have so far entered the Republican side of the fray seem the perfect candidate. After all, Romney once championed gay marriage. So did Giuliani and he was also married three times. The charges that he was playing around long before both of his divorces won't help with these social conservatives. Not even his "Hero of 9/11" tag, which he does not deserve in the first place. Then, there is John McCain, a true war hero who has betrayed them on a number of issues, including judicial appointments. They want a true believer, opposed to abortion, gay rights, gun control and a supporter of packing the Supreme Court and other federal courts with people with like views. You can see the differences in a recent poll. While 29 percent of all voters believe that the war in Iraq is the issue that matters most, only 17 percent of white evangelical Protestants believe that. While 19 percent believe that Values issues such as gay marriage and abortion is the most important issue, 45 percent of the religious right believe that it is. What candidates does that leave to the social conservatives? Candidates such as Sam Brownback of Kansas and Mike Huckabee of Arkansas. Does that sound about right to you? What an election this is going to be.

... In the last week, the kid gloves that the Republican candidates seem to have been wearing have come off for a time. Mitt Romney charged that his major opponent, Rudi Giuliani is "pro-gay marriage." "[Giuliani] is pro-gay marriage and anti-gun," Romney said in an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network. "That's a tough combination for a Republican primary." Perhaps he's right. Giuliani has always been in favor of gun control and has said that, while he thinks that a marriage should be between a man and a woman, that he believes in civil unions, two things anathema to the Neocons.

... On the local front, the Queens Democratic Party seems to be holding together after the death of Tom Manton and the ascendancy of Joseph Crowley. The party delegation backed Sheldon Silver on his choice of a new Comptroller right down the line, as always. The party even continued to support State Senator Ada Smith after all of her legal problems on the theory that she raised lots of money for the party and that she was always loyal to party leaders, voting the way she was instructed rather than the way her constituents would have liked her to vote. The needs of the party inner circle always come before the needs of the voters. It's a shame, but Audrey Pheffer and Michelle Titus fit that mold as well. Their mantra is apparently "go along to get along," and it works well for them if not for the people they represent. For years the Democrats protected Republican Serph Maltese by refusing to run a candidate against him, reportedly insuring that no party-supported Republican would run against Pheffer in return. What a political world we live in.

Malcolm Smith has hit the high life as the Senate's Minority Leader even though he and his fellow Democratics do not even have the right to submit bills under the archaic and foolish Senate rules. Last week, Smith flew to Alabama as the guest of former President Bill Clinton. They flew on Clinton's private jet on a flight that took four hours, but Smith said they never discussed politics or who he was going to support for President.

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