Streetwise Professor

November 4, 2010

Mr. Cravaack Goes to Washington

Filed under: Politics — The Professor @ 3:27 pm

Rahm Emanuel has cultivated an image as a political killer:

No, the definitive Rahm Emanuel story takes place in Little Rock, Ark., in the heady days after Bill Clinton was first elected President.

It was there that Emanuel, then Clinton’s chief fund-raiser, repaired with George Stephanopoulos, Mandy Grunwald and other aides to Doe’s, the campaign hangout. Revenge was heavy in the air as the group discussed the enemies – Democrats, Republicans, members of the press – who wronged them during the 1992 campaign. Clifford Jackson, the ex-friend of the President and peddler of the Clinton draft-dodging stories, was high on the list. So was William Donald Schaefer, then the Governor of Maryland and a Democrat who endorsed George Bush. Nathan Landow, the fund-raiser who backed the candidacy of Paul Tsongas, made it, too.

Suddenly Emanuel grabbed his steak knife and, as those who were there remember it, shouted out the name of another enemy, lifted the knife, then brought it down with full force into the table.

”Dead!” he screamed.

The group immediately joined in the cathartic release: ”Nat Landow! Dead! Cliff Jackson! Dead! Bill Schaefer! Dead!”

Well, Emanuel and his erstwhile boss and fellow Chicago pol, Obama, have indeed proven to be accomplished political assassins.  Unfortunately for them–and fortunately for the rest of us–their victim list includes more than a quarter of the Democratic House delegation and several senators up for re-election.  “Alan Grayson! Dead! Rick Boucher! Dead!  Russ Feingold! Dead! Glenn Nye!  Dead!  Baron Hill!  Dead! Blanche Lincoln!  Dead!”  I could go on.  And on.  And on.

Tragically, the political-career casualty list did not include Barney Frank (which particularly bummed Mrs. SWP), Harry Reid, Barbara Boxer, and a few of the other egregious ones who survived.  And Battling Bob Etheridge is still hanging on.  But all in all, Emanuel’s and Obama’s fellow Democrats would have been quite relieved only to see their Congressional party decimated, rather than tri-decimated, as it basically was.

There is one particularly surprising payoff in the 2010 Political Career Dead Pool: James Oberstar of Minnesota.  Oberstar had been in Congress for 18 terms, and no Republican had represented his district since the 1940s.  But he was defeated by political newcomer Chip Cravaack.

This is quite personally gratifying as I know Chip.  Chip was my classmate at Navy, and indeed, we were in the same company at Navy–34–so we went through Plebe Summer and the next two years together, living the same life in the same place and dealing with the same people and problems.  (I won’t repeat the 34th Company anthem, because it’s not work safe:))  Chip was (and I am sure, still is) a straight shooter, affable, sincere, earnest, honest, dedicated, and an extremely hard worker.  A mensch, in short.  He served honorably as a pilot in the Navy, and in the Navy Reserve, and was a pilot for Northwest Airlines.

I learned over the summer via Facebook that Chip was running, and I followed his progress on FB.  I thought his was an admirable, but Quixotic quest.  Even though I thought that a wave was coming, I doubted that it would be high enough to turn established incumbents like Oberstar into political flotsam.  But Chip worked very hard, and did a yeoman’s job at retail face-to-face politics, while Oberstar played the distant Mandarin in far away DC.  Chip stoked real enthusiasm in the voters of MN-8, as demonstrated at the debates between the candidates.  In the end, it all paid off: Chip did the unthinkable, and ended Oberstar’s too long tenure.

It’s not quite Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, but it is an inspirational example of a private citizen who has worked real jobs his entire life putting down his tools and standing for office when he believed his country to be in danger, and prevailing against what probably seemed insurmountable odds at the time he embarked on his quest.

Chip is often characterized as a Tea Party candidate, and I am sure he would embrace the label with pride.  The sneering classes on the coasts and their urban enclaves have heaped scorn on people like Chip since the Tea Parties first coalesced in spring, 2009.  They have denigrated their intelligence, their beliefs, their motives.

Well I know Chip Cravaack, and I can say that he’s a solid guy, a serious guy, and a truly patriotic guy.  We need more people him in office, the sneerers be damned.  Chip is a true citizen politician, doing things the way the Founders thought it should be done.

Keep it up Chip.  Remember where you came from, and what you ran for–and what you stand for.  Congratulations and Godspeed.

A long way from when we were braced up against the wall on 8-3, no?  I’m proud to say I knew you when.

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