2010-08-27 / Columnists

The Rockaway Irregular

Showbiz Exec Vs. Showboating Pol
Commentary by Stuart W. Mirsky

Why bother running for Congress against Anthony Weiner, a Democratic incumbent in New York’s 9th CD — a district which hasn’t seen a Republican Congressman for longer than anybody can remember and which is situated in a town with a massive voter registration imbalance in favor of Democrats? Semiretired businessman and Queens resident Bob Turner has his reasons.

The former television executive who was born in Manhattan, grew up in Woodhaven, raised his own family in Richmond Hill and now resides on the westernmost part of the Rockaway peninsula within sight of Coney Island, was enjoying his peaceful semiretirement, filling his days with travel and an extended family (two daughters and three sons) when he was abruptly shaken out of his political torpor.

“I was watching a television interview of our Congressman, Anthony Weiner,” he muses aloud to a local reporter in the middle of his hectic campaign offices on the corner of Myrtle and 81st Street in Glendale, Queens one drizzily afternoon. “They were talking about the healthcare bill passed last winter and I was interested in the Congressman’s response to concerns about the cost implications of the IRS enforcement provision Congress had built into the bill. When the interviewer pointed out that the new law would make failure to carry healthcare insurance a tax liability for Americans and involve major additional costs to the U.S. taxpayer for enhanced IRS enforcement of the new tax, Weiner brazenly disregarded the question and filibustered his way through the rest of the interview, showboating, as usual, for the camera.”

This, Bob Turner says, made him so angry that he immediately sought out a politically active neighbor and asked where he could send his check to support Weiner’s challenger in the upcoming election. “Nowhere,” the neighbor shot back, “because no one’s running against him.”

Turner was flummoxed when he realized that Weiner who, he believed, had been disingenuous in public statements and had a reputation for playing fast and loose with facts should end up with no competition and an easy waltz to re-election come November. After asking around a bit more and discovering that his neighbor had it right, Turner decided to bite the proverbial bullet himself. No stranger to long odds (he’s climbed mountains in Asia and rafted down some of America’s fastest rivers — once pulling a fellow enthusiast out of the drink when their canoe capsized and they came close to disaster), Turner decided that if no one else would challenge the stridently manipulative incumbent, he’d do it himself.

“I’ve had my career,” he says with a disarming smile, “so I’m not looking to parlay this into any higher office. I want to go to Washington as a concerned citizen, vote my conscience and the interests of my fellow voters and go home. I’m tired of career politicians, the lifers who think our tax dollars are coming to them and that lowering the amount they extract from private citizens in taxes is a cost to the government! When did government gain the right to count private citizens’ money as its own?”

Does Turner believe he has a chance of really getting elected in a district that has routinely returned politicians of the other party to Washington election after election? Weiner, in fact, succeeded to his Congressional seat when his predecessor and former boss, Chuck Schumer, moved on to bigger pastures.

“It’s not like it’s a cakewalk,” Turner replies. “But people are tired of being badly represented. I know I am. Year after year, our incumbent Congressman talks the talk but then he shows what he’s really about when he votes against the interests of his constituents. He pretends to be his own man but with that ever present finger in the wind, always testing the direction it’s blowing, making sure he tells people what they want to hear. And

ours with desk top computers and cell phones, iPads and Kindles? A world of easy passage through the skies to all points on this planet and of high def TVs and, even, 3-D? The only science fiction still missing is moon colonies, clones and flying cars. But they’re not unimaginable anymore either.

Not unimaginable, that is, if we can halt the self-immolating policies that have already led to curtailment of our space programs as the administration pumps ever more stimulus dollars into the economy (though they continue to fail to stimulate anything); as Congress and the President pass a healthcare reform package most Americans don’t want and which is now projected to cost substantially more than the legislators who pushed it through claimed at the time (did anyone really believe them?); and as financial regulatory “reforms” come down the pike with more restrictions on economic activity and tax increases — while ignoring the two home loan organizations, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which pitched us into the recent fiscal crisis in the first place.

Massive new tax increases loom in the wings because of all this spending, as does incipient inflation, after a round of destructive deflation, of course, due to economic implosion.

And,it doesn’t look like anyone can do anything to stop any of it from happening..

Many of us are old enough to recall what high tax rates did to the economy the last time around (in the late 1960’s and 70’s) and are astounded at how Americans have forgotten the lessons that the learned in the past, in those tough times.

Death, when we see it take those we know or love, is a painful reminder of what’s out there waiting for all of us. It’s hard to see how anything else really matters in the face of it. But life

is death’s denial because life is action and choice — and the choice is ours once again, come November. Do we leave a legacy of bankruptcy to those who follow, an America on the skids and dependent on the handouts and tolerance of others? Or can those who come after us still dream of ending their century as we ended ours, with this country still pre-eminent, still powerful and still the freest land on earth?

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