Every so often someone asks me my greatest strength as a columnist. But no one needs to ask me my greatest flaw; I wear it on my sleeve. It is that there is one person in government whom I despise so utterly that mere mention of his name makes me spew all over the page. My poor reasonable readers all scurry for cover in fear of getting acid burns from my invective.
By the same token, he is the reason I felt compelled to enter this field. By a weird quirk of fate, I was present as a sixteen-year-old boy at a local meeting of well-meaning Jews who were gulled into making him State Senator for the neighborhood where I grew up, in Brooklyn, New York. The same boobs later bought his malarkey and promoted him to the United State Congress. I saw the sleaziness, the deception, the insincerity, the manipulation — and to cap it off, the absolute disdain for the people whose vote he sought.
Now he is ensconced in the United States Senate, beyond the reach of the naïve Orthodox Jews of Brooklyn and Queens to call back the monster they created. He learned early that these people who strive for morality and integrity in their lives are gullible about things taking place in faraway Washington, D.C. So he learned to attend every synagogue dinner and every major bar-mitzvah and wedding. He had a driver zipping him back and forth on Saturday nights from event to event, shaking hands and mouthing a few words in Yiddish or Hebrew. Burning the midnight snake oil: all style, no substance.
Then he took their votes, the votes of people being faithful to their families, people who spend their heart-blood on religious education, on protecting their children from base influences, often living without televisions in their homes, imagining themselves to be conducting lives of holiness — and he spent their votes on advocacy for every immoral practice imaginable. If you want to promote some corruption, some indecency, some nastiness, you could always count on the vote of good old Charles Schumer.
After all, he was in the safest seat of all, bestowed upon him by all those sweet ingenuous rabbis. Even when he left, he handed it off to his protégé, Anthony Weiner, who does the identical dog-and-pony show at all the synagogues and then hands his vote to Satan as a tribute.
As you may have guessed from my tirade, Schumer is back in form. He was recorded by reporters instructing a quartet of Democrat Senators how to game the budget debate. For once his finagling is exposed: even a snake cannot wriggle away when it is stuck on the tape. He tells his henchmen to hammer away about the “extreme” cuts by the radical Tea Party Republicans. Tell everyone that Democrats want to negotiate but the Republicans are refusing to be reasonable.
I don’t suppose this is too much creepier than other political machinations, but I can’t help seeing red and black and blue. This man does for Judaism what Harry Reid does for Mormonism: portray it as the province of selfish, grasping, conniving leeches who are willing to bulldoze the moral edifice the Founders built. They do it to advance the cause of a pseudo-progressive remaking of society into a state of moral anarchy.
Please accept my apology. I know I cannot be coherent about this very sore subject. To me he is the Bernie Madoff of moral capital. He got all the Orthodox Jews to invest their moral capital with him and he cleaned them out. My only consolation is that they were sold out but they did not sell out; they got nothing in return. (In fairness, staffers at his neighborhood offices — including my cousin’s cousin — were always solicitous of the needs of constituents and helped wherever possible.)
Until he leaves public office, I will never be fully able to accept the model of government as a force for good. My dream of seeing Jews in Congress associated with probity and integrity, wisdom and prudence, is all focused on one man right now: Eric Cantor. Somehow I believe against all odds that in the long run the Cantor will lead the congregation in a noble direction. Hey, Schumer, is that extreme enough for ya?