Chuck Schumer

The Shortcomings and Failings of Chuck Schumer

The Democrats should look elsewhere for a new Senate leader.

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The news that Senator Reid's retirement announcement sets up Charles Schumer to be the Democratic leader in the Senate set off a twinge of Brooklyn pride. I knew Schumer back when he was just an ambitious member of the House of Representatives.

But whatever "hometown boy makes good" affectionate feelings I have about Schumer—with whom I share the Jewish faith, a Harvard degree, and years of residence in Brooklyn—are followed quickly, and almost entirely swamped, by my knowledge of the senator's limits. If the Democratic Party is looking for real leadership, as opposed to mere fundraising prowess, it will have to look elsewhere.

What passes for an idea in Schumer-land is what he signaled in a statement after Reid's announcement. He said he looked forward to "continuing to fight for the middle class."

It's a threadbare slogan—which should be a warning to Republicans such as Jeb Bush who are trying to mimic it on the advice of "reform" conservatives. What's it supposed to signal? Callous disregard for the plight of the poor? Fierce enmity toward the wealthy? Whatever happened to politicians representing all Americans, rather than dividing us up into classes and favoring those in the middle?

In Schumer's case, the self-styled fighter for the middle class and critic of the "wealthy" happens to have a family income of more than $400,000 a year and a $2 million apartment. Perhaps that will qualify him as a worthy successor to Senator Reid, who lives in a luxury condominium at the Ritz-Carlton in Washington.

Aside from real estate investing acumen, Schumer's private sector experience is scant verging on nonexistent, as is his sense of the boundary between what should be the private sector's domain and what should be subject to government control. The man has been a professional politician since he was first elected to the New York State Assembly in 1974, more than 40 years ago, and just months after he graduated from Harvard Law School.

Schumer gets credit in some quarters as a national security hawk relative to the rest of his party. He voted to authorize the use of military force in Iraq in the George W. Bush administration, and he has shadowed President Obama slightly—but only slightly—to the right on the Iran nuclear deal. For longtime Schumer watchers such as myself, however, it's hard to escape the impression that Schumer's national security outlook was forged by the Vietnam War period in which he came of age. The most memorable display of this was his 1991 vote as a congressman, during George H.W. Bush's administration, against the Persian Gulf War.

He gets credit in other quarters for being more reasonable, when it comes to regulating or taxing Wall Street, than other members of his party, like, say, Senator Elizabeth Warren, or the independent socialist who represents that global financial powerhouse known as the state of Vermont, Bernie Sanders. (Senators Sanders and Schumer both graduated James Madison High School in Brooklyn.)

But that isn't saying much. And without questioning Schumer's motives, any deference he shows to Wall Street probably has less to do with any free-market principles, and more to do with his fundraising modus operandi. As The New York Times memorably summarized it: 

Donors describe the Schumer pitch as unusually aggressive: He calls repeatedly to suggest breakfast or dinner, coffee or cocktails. He enlists intermediaries to invite prospects to events and recruits several senators to tag along. And he presses for the maximum contribution—"I need you to max out," he is known to say—then follows up by asking that a donor's spouse and four or five friends write checks, too.

Schumer will intervene for and fundraise from just about any New York industry with a Washington interest. There was the case of the Hickey Freeman suit company and a government "wool trust fund." And the case of a cut-rate government loan to a phone company. And the case of JetBlue airlines and Schumer's campaign against airlines that charge fees for carry-on bags. 

There's a certain lovable quality to Schumer that is hard to avoid even when he is on the other end of the phone yelling at you and threatening never to speak to anyone who works for your newspaper ever again. He works hard and he relishes what he does and I think he is a genuinely patriotic American.

But that makes it all the more tragic that this politician—who Bloomberg is now likening to Lyndon Johnson, writing that he has "been the highest-profile political player for the last decade in the major media centers of New York and Washington"—stands for so little.

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  1. And he doesn’t think flashbangs are, like, explosive or anything.

    NEVER FORGET

    also he has moobs

  2. Longest book ever writen?

  3. The story of Charlie’s shortcomings can be summarized very succinctly: He’s an incompetent, power-hungry, egomaniacal cunt.

    -jcr

    1. Also amoral.

  4. ” If the Democratic Party is looking for real leadership, as opposed to mere fundraising prowess, it will have to look elsewhere.”

    question your premises.

  5. “Failings” suggests he was destined for something other than being a total scumbag.

    His story is one of Grand Achievement…. at being an amoral, self-serving, machine-politics douche-nozzle.

  6. “The Shortcomings and Failings of Chuck Schumer”

    In 5 volumes!

    1. I’d much rather have hard copies of the Lusty Argonian Maid (both volumes).

      1. I’d rather put up with Churchill’s WWII self-promo library.

        1. Hell, Churchill is readable. He can tell the tale.

  7. If you recall his questioning of a Supreme Court nominee concerning the Commerce Clause he certainly implied that Congress has the power to do anything, ban anything, regulate anything it can get its hands on. He loves one thing only – Power.

    Patriotic American? By definition — no.

  8. First time I met Chuck was when he was our US Rep in the late 80’s. He showed up at a Boy Scout meeting to schmooze with the adults. My dad’s comment to his friend after Chuck left was, “That scumbag is going to try and be president someday.” Looking back I feel fortunate to have met such a politician at a young age… if you know what I mean.

    1. Fortunately he comes off as too blatantly reptilian for this ever to occur.

    2. So tell us about the second time you met “Chuck” ?

      1. Would you rather me have referred to him as The Honorable Senator from NY?

    3. “Show us on the ballot where Mr Schumer touched you.”

      1. At least he did’t try to touch my hanging chad.

  9. He voted to authorize the use of military force in Iraq in the George W. Bush administration

    For the record, explanation (link) of the law and policy, fact basis for Operation Iraqi Freedom.

  10. Chuckie or Dickie?

    Shit sandwich on Rye or Wheat?

  11. “He works hard and he relishes what he does and I think he is a genuinely patriotic American.”

    I don’t care how he works at getting his hands into everyone’s wallets, and the damage he has done to this country kind of rules out “patriotism”…more like contempt for the people living in the country.

  12. This guy couldn’t rob someone’s grandmother face to face because she would kick the shit out of him. Chuck Schumer hides behind the totalitarian arm of the state, and robs people through his lame pencil. Then there are the threats and acts of violence against folks, but Chuck is not coming to your door. He is too weak to do such a thing because he would face the consequenses of the thievery he advocates daily.

    How many taxes would he collect if he went to get them himself? JPyrate would kick the shit out of Chuck before he got a chance to piss on his lawn, let alone try and extort him.

    That is why Chuck, nor the liberals that espouse such acts would never engage in these aggressions by themselves.

  13. Whatever you think about his political positions, Chuck Schumer is inarguably the greatest orator and debater among current American politicians. He speaks in a voluminous but reasonable-sounding tone of voice, and projects the image of a caring and sensible person who is beleagured by dishonest partisans on all sides. This is what Mr. Welch and Mr. Gillespie’s so-called “Independents”, most of whom don’t understand the first thing about email servers or ball ammo, look for in a leader.

    Rather than dismissing him, perhaps you should try to emulate him (in his oratorial style at least).

    1. What’s the price of tea in China?

    2. Yes, because it’s all about style.

  14. When I lived in DC we used to say that the most dangerous place to be was the space between Chuck Schumer and a microphone

  15. His primary fault is that he’s still breathing.

  16. Or as we call him Schmuck Chumer.

  17. “There’s a certain lovable quality to Schumer that is hard to avoid even when he is on the other end of the phone yelling at you and threatening never to speak to anyone who works for your newspaper ever again. He works hard and he relishes what he does and I think he is a genuinely patriotic American”
    CS is one of the biggest a-h in the senate. He is NOT lovable. He is cruel, evil and yes he is a hard worker but for EVIL.

  18. Try to find video of Schumer chiding Alito at his Supreme Court hearings, claiming that a word Alito used was not a word (it is). Pompous, condescending and obliviously wrong.

    1. forgot to include the word — “inapt”

      Senator Shumer:

      “You used the word ‘inapt’…I didn’t even know there was such a word as ‘inapt’, but in any event….”

  19. a democrat being pompous, condescending and obviously wrong? oh say it isn’t so!

  20. The real qualification for any Party position is the ability to raise funds. Can Schumer hang with the big boys and pull down the campaign checks? He sounds good… He’s a hawk about some currently unpopular wars, he doesn’t seem to have principles, that part’s all good…

    As fearless leader of half of the Party’s congressional fund raising crew, (Congress) his success as “a Democrat” is going to be about negotiating attacks by the “other party”, every time the “Democrats” land a gun bill on the floor, the donations pour into the “Republicans”… just as the “Republicans” launch an assault on abortion, and the money flows into the “Democrats”

    Does Schumer have other plans to abet fund raising? Can he find people who want to change US policy who have the funds to get it done? Can he sell US policy to Saudi Arabia or work the
    UAE? Will AIPAC find him worthy to receive kickbacks from Israel for foreign aid?

    If not, maybe it’s time he became a lobbyist. Interestingly enough, should he become a lobbyist, it might be the very first time he’s tasked with actually composing US policy on some issue. Lobbies typically provide language for bills “as a courtesy” to their “clients”

    1. I solemnly swear to stop using quotes (“) to express the disdain I have, and the sarcasm I use, towards the Party.

  21. Who do the progturds have that int a complete shitbag to led them in the Senate?

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