Wednesday, March 19, 2008



Today's Hill has a puff piece on the Senate's most shameless publicity hound, Chuck Schumer, a Democrat with the kind of reptilian brain usually only found in Republicans. Reporter Aaron Blake is going to have to get the excrement sandblasted off his head. He makes Schumer sound almost as mythical as Rahm Emanuel or Tom DeLay!

Lizard Man is modestly claiming he might not be able to deliver a 60/40 Senate split-- and, by the way, he still defends his vote to confirm Michael Mukasey as Attorney General.
While Schumer has shone as DSCC chairman, he went through a rough patch as a legislator in recent months over the man he suggested the White House nominate as attorney general.

A former federal judge and a fellow New Yorker, Mukasey appeared to be sailing through his confirmation hearings in October until he struggled to explain whether he believed waterboarding constitutes illegal torture under domestic and international law.

Mukasey said he could not answer since the CIA had not briefed him on any U.S. program that employs the simulating drowning technique. His hedging infuriated Democrats.

Under enormous pressure, Schumer stood by Mukasey, and he continues to do so today.

“I had a difficult time,” Schumer said. “I don’t mind people having disagreeing views, but … a lot of the blogs said there was no courage.

“But believe me,” he added, “the easy decision for me would have been to go against Mukasey. I just thought it was wrong.”

Schumer, along with Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), voted for Mukasey, saying he represented the best possible Bush administration successor to Alberto Gonzales to restore the integrity of the Justice Department. Their votes allowed the nomination to advance from the Judiciary Committee to the full Senate.

“It became a symbolic issue, you know: ‘Vote against torture,’ ” Schumer said. “I tend not to be a symbolic politician. I’m a meat-and-potato politician.”

They didn't get into how he feels about having supported Joe Lieberman in 2006 and how that old chicken has come home to roost of late.
[P]ressure is nothing new for the man who oh-so-narrowly delivered the Senate to his party in 2006, and it’s clear Schumer is enjoying the ride and wearing each of his hats with pride.

...“Here’s what I think: We get 55, 56, 57, 58, you will pick up enough Republicans on any single issue,” Schumer said, adding: "Yeah, you’d have to make certain compromises, but not give away the store." [Compromises, of course, are Schumer's stock in trade... deal making, triangulation, that which allows him to be Senator Wall Street and still represent one of the deepest blue, progressive states in the nation.]

Nothing has served Schumer quite as well in his campaign role as his pragmatism and heavy hand.

Though irritating to certain parts of the party [the Democratic wing], Schumer has consistently picked his horses early, largely based on their electability, and rode them through to the finish line.

No mention of Montana DLC hack John Morrison here, who grassroots Montanans told Schumer to shove up his Insider butt, nominating their own populist candidate, Jon Tester, and then beating a very Schumer-like Republican in November, Conrad Burns. Instead he recounts the triumphs of Bob Casey, Claire McCaskill and, oddly, since I don't recall Schumer backing him, Jim Webb. [Update: a friendly DSCC employee reminded me that Schumer did indeed get behind Webb early on.] And then Blake writes about the corporate shills Schumer is trying to foist on Democrats in North Carolina and Kentucky, Kay Hagan and Bruce Lunsford. He recruited Hagan because he insists a gay candidate-- Jim Neal-- can't win Jesse Helms' old seat and thinks the way to beat Elizabeth Dole is to confuse voters by presenting them with a candidate so similar that no one can tell them apart. That worked out real well in Tennessee in 2006, when Schumer's reactionary candidate, Harold Ford, was so much like a Republican that the voters just figured they might as well stick with an actual Republican. Schumer is trying to replay that same scenario in North Carolina and Kentucky.

In Kentucky he has been personally-- and quite unethically-- clearing the field for the state's most detested Democrat, Bruce Lunsford (a Zell Miller kind of reactionary) and strong-arming local unions-- who know better-- into endorsing the hated Lunsford over a genuine Democrat Greg Fischer. When asked if he takes heat for interfering in local primaries to pick reactionary candidates, Schumer went right to Kentucky. "Some people are very upset about [Iraq war veteran Andrew] Horne [dropping out] in Kentucky. … We obviously pick candidates who are in the Democratic mainstream, and we like candidates who will be good senators, but winning matters. And so, do I occasionally take some flak? Sure. But that’s part of the game and I don’t mind it. That’s my job." Actually, it isn't. He's supposed to be neutral.
Even one candidate Schumer didn’t initially like, comedian Al Franken, has won him over.

The Democratic race to face Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.) is now all but clear with the exit of attorney Mike Ciresi-- a development Schumer said he was pleased with-- and Republicans were quick to go on the offensive this week, distributing a video of Franken faking an Asian accent.

“To be honest with you, I was really worried when [Franken] first announced,” Schumer said. “I was worried that his jokes would get him in trouble, but more importantly that he was just running from the left and not serious. He is a very serious candidate, and he gets it and he knows how to talk to average people.”

Notice the reptilian brain at work: "more importantly that he was just running from the left and not serious." I wonder if he meant that running from the left (i.e., representing regular people instead of business interests) is something he doesn't like AND that he doesn't like someone he judges not to be "not serious" (the same tact Coleman is taking on his attacks against Franken; Coleman and Schumer grew up within blocks of each other-- as did Ken, Ruth Bader-Ginsburg, and myself.) He also marvels that Coleman knows how to talk to "average people." Imagine that; maybe he can give lessons when he gets to the Senate.

My favorite part of the story was when we are reminded that "Schumer is up for reelection in 2010." Maybe someone who runs from the left and knows how to talk with regular people will decide to take him on in a primary. If you hear of anyone considering it, send them to Blue America.

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At 7:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Schumer has also gone the sex offender legislation route; that should tell you where this man is headed eventually.

At 7:16 PM, Blogger Richard Taylor said...

I think Lizzy is tanking the Kentucky race so that he has an excuse to undercut labor and be kind to big bidness. Keeping McConnell in office as an obstructionist gives Lizzy a ready made excuse for no progressive legislation getting through without him having to actually go on record against it.

At 8:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What makes him think he can "pick up enough Republicans on any single issue”? He can't even pick up enough Democrats on the most important issues! And now he wants more Democrats who we won't be able to pick up on issues! It's retarded!

At 5:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"They didn't get into how he feels about having supported Joe Lieberman in 2006 and how that old chicken has come home to roost of late."

Didn't the DSCC support Lamont over Lieberman? I remember the netroots giving big props for that move. Or are you talking about Schumer personally?

At 4:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good Job! :)


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