The right man for the job



We all have our favorites. One of mine is Chuck Schumer who is now the top Democrat in the United States Senate. While we don’t always agree, I admire his character. I know him and think that he has an incredible sense of humor and is a straight shooter.

Even when he takes a controversial or unpopular view, he is always transparent. Now he is all that stands between the American people and some very threatening actions by President Elect Donald J. Trump.

Schumer, of course, is seriously outnumbered. He has a Republican President, a Republican House and a Republican Senate. In the words of Kenny Rogers, he’ll have to know when to hold ‘em and know when to fold ‘em. It will be up to Schumer to fight like hell when Trump tries to put another very conservative voice on the Supreme Court which might just mean the end of a woman’s right to choose as well as an end to vital efforts to protect our environment. This could all spell disaster not only for ourselves, but for our children and grandchildren.

Let me give you one example of his sense of humor. When he voted in favor of the Iraq War, which I disagreed with, he called me and said that he’d like to come to WAMC’s Linda Norris Auditorium to discuss his decision. He knew that our audience would not agree but he did the right thing and came to explain. When the day arrived, I decided to follow the example of the Commonwealth Club and others and have people fill out cards with their questions. That way we could avoid duplication and the moderator (me) could arrange the cards in some kind of orderly fashion.

As I entered the hall, I saw a man, probably in his late sixties with balding gray hair in a pony- tail, berating our young intern and shouting at her, “I don’t give a damn who Chartock thinks he is — I’m not writing on a card. I am going to stand up and tell him (Schumer) what I think of him.” Well, I’m here to tell you that I wasn’t happy, so I walked up to him and said, “This is my house,” and warned him to behave. For my trouble, I had a cup of steaming hot coffee thrown in my face.

That’s when pandemonium ensued. As I recall, the place soon was crowded with people in blue uniforms of various ranks. The coffee thrower walked up to me and asked if he was going to be arrested and the police asked me if I wanted to press charges. The answer was no because I hadn’t really been hurt and because I am generally known as a civil liberties type. Well, the cops took the guy aside and talked to him.

It wasn’t long before Chuck showed up through the rear door of the auditorium and yelled at the top of his voice, “Where’s the peacenik who threw the coffee in Alan’s face?” You should read that again because it is a really funny line.

Well, Chuck has always known how to get along with people. It isn’t only his sense of humor, it’s also his decency. If Trump is to be stopped, it will have to be with the help of an amalgam of Democrats and Republicans who just want to do the right thing. That group of decent folks in both parties is already beginning to form up. People like John McCain and Rand Paul and Susan Collins, among others, are showing that right has to prevail over partisan politics.

It will be up to Schumer to reach across the aisle and make that happen. We are lucky to have the guy who can do that in charge of the Democrats. It won’t be easy and I don’t envy him but he’s the guy to do it.