A single word can end a politician's career—especially if the word is "putzhead."
During the 1998 New York race for U.S. Senate, incumbent Republican Alfonse D'Amato used the Yiddish vulgarity to describe Charles Schumer, his Democratic and Jewish opponent.
Although D'Amato remained a slight favorite to the bitter end, he never recovered from "Putzgate." Schumer, in a battle between two extraordinarily unattractive candidates, eventually won going away.
Schumer's victory was a dark day for immigration reformers. Few in the Senate are worse.
In his first term, "Schume," as he is unflatteringly referred to, compiled an immigration voting record that puts him in the same league with long-time open borders enthusiasts Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and newcomer Hillary Clinton (D-NY).
What's a Schumer challenger to do? An enterprising and gutsy candidate would make political hay out of how immigration has redefined the Empire State.
New York, of course, has historically welcomed immigrants (give or take the occasional riot). But during the last decade, New York's foreign-born population increased by more than one million and accounted for 103% of population growth.
Our imaginary candidate would analyze the immigration data. Then he would study Schumer's voting record, take the pulse of the citizens and, figuring he had nothing to lose and possibly quite a bit to win, announce: "I am going to run a vigorous campaign centered around immigration reform."
Needless to say, this candidate exists only in our dreams.
The Republican and the Conservative Party offer only token resistance to the Schumer machine.
The G.O.P. nominee is State Assemblyman Howard Mills.
What, you wonder, is Mills' position on immigration?
He has none…. literally.
According to "On the Issues," a non-partisan website that tracks "every political leader on every issue," Mills has "no stance" on immigration.
The Conservative Party challenger, Dr. Marilyn O'Grady, talks the talk about immigration. Dr. O'Grady favors a moratorium until the Department of Homeland Security becomes "fully operational." And she believes that the U.S. should end all immigration with countries that promote terrorism, e.g. North Korea and Iran.
On October 17, during a television interview that included Mills, host Gabe Pressman asked Dr. O'Grady if she were merely a "sacrificial lamb."
Replied Dr. O'Grady:
"No, not at all. I think despite a large war chest that Chuck Schumer has a lot to answer for….He needs to explain why he'll preen on TV about illegal immigration, but yet he votes to give illegal aliens amnesty in this country"
Unfortunately, Dr. O'Grady doesn't walk the walk. On the stump, Dr. O'Grady is silent about immigration—and every other issue, except abortion.
"On the Issues" reports that Dr. O'Grady entered the Senate race to "give a voice to the unborn" and further notes that she has no position on any of the following:
the budget, the economy, crime, drugs, education, environment, foreign policy, free trade, government reform, gun control, jobs, social security or welfare.
By not attacking federal immigration policy, the Republicans defaulted in New York.
Schumer, like Barbara Boxer in California and Barack Obama in Illinois—two other major states where the G.O.P. stuck its head in the sand regarding illegal immigration—will waltz to a landslide re-election.
In fact, the Republican Party will probably suffer its most brutal pounding in New York. The current polling shows Schumer, 61%; Mills, 13% and Dr. O'Grady, 9%.
Could Mills and O'Grady have done worse if they'd campaigned on immigration?
But there's good news, sort of. Once re-elected, Schumer is not expected to serve out his term. Rumor—which Schumer refuses to deny—is that he will seek to unseat Governor George Pataki in 2006.
Pataki might pave the way for Schumer by announcing that he will run for the U.S. Senate against Hillary Clinton.
Pataki is no prize on immigration. But if he beats Clinton and Schumer leaves to become governor, that's two fewer raging immigration enthusiasts in the Senate.
Joe Guzzardi [email him], an instructor in English at the Lodi Adult School, has been writing a weekly newspaper column since 1988. This column is exclusive to VDARE.COM.