It’s only six days into the new year, but I think we have a front-runner for Dumbest Political Statement Of The Year. Take it away, State Senator Dick McCormack:
“Adjudication is not supposed to be democratic,” he said. “Jesus was put to death by the will of the majority. Socrates was put to death by the will of the majority.”
That is how the
Orange Windsor County Democrat explained his vote against the expulsion of Norm McAllister, self-admitted sex criminal.
You know, if the first rule of political discourse is “Take it easy on the Hitler talk,” then Rule Two ought to be “Think twice before comparing anyone to Jesus.”
I mean, c’mon. First of all, to compare Norm McAllister, in any way, shape, or form, to two of the great men* of history is, well, let’s just say unfortunate.
*Or one great man and one God in human form, take your pick.
But even leaving aside that rhetorical absurdity, I’m afraid McCormack has a foundational problem and a historical problem as well.
Let’s take Jesus first. McCormack appears to blame the Jews for the death of Our Lord and Carpenter. That’s wrong. The killing of Jesus was carried out under Roman law by Roman means; his crime was not claiming to be the Messiah, it was threatening the peace and order of the Empire. The Jews were puppets in Pontius Pilate’s little drama. This wasn’t democracy or the will of the majority; it was an autocracy inciting a mob to serve its own interests.
Now, Socrates. He committed suicide after a trial by jury. The jury happened to consist of five hundred Athenians, but it was a trial nonetheless. His example is irrelevant to McAllister’s Senate proceeding.
Oh, a couple more little problems. Norm McAllister lost his Senate seat. Temporarily. Jesus and Socrates LOST THEIR LIVES. The stakes are not comparable. Also, Jesus and Socrates’ real offenses were matters of speech and belief. McAllister’s are a wee bit more sordid.
Okay, so McCormack’s comparison was not only a wild exaggeration, it was also wrong, wrong, wrong, and wrong.
Now, on to the Senate vote itself. It was 20 in favor of suspension and 10 against.
The fact that ten Senators believe it’s appropriate for Norm McAllister to pollute the Senate and disgrace his constituents with his presence is, need I say, appalling. And there’s an interesting pattern in the ten “No” votes. No, it wasn’t partisan;
five four Republicans and five six Democrats voted to keep McAllister in their midst.
The pattern: Almost all of the “no” votes came from those who have been Senators for a really long time. With the exception of Brian Collamore (2 years) and McAllister and Peg Flory (6 apiece), all have served more than ten years. The most senior of the “No’s” are Dick McCormack (27) and Dick Mazza (30). (McAllister and Flory had lengthy tenures in the House before moving up to the Senate, so Collamore is the only Senator with less then ten years of continuous Statehouse service who voted with McAllister.) (All numbers calculated through the end of the current biennium.)
Which bolsters my frequently stated argument about the Senate: it’s a musty, hidebound body whose members are almost immune to electoral challenge, so many of them are almost permanent fixtures. It’s only natural that they’d come to identify with their colleagues and their institution more than with, say, their constituents or the general public.
This is not universally true; there are some good Senators. But there’s an awful lot of people who have seemingly permanent tenure, and that quantity of seniority is not good for any workplace. You need experience; but you also need new blood, fresh air. The Senate is long on the former and short on the latter. And that’s how you wind up with ten Senators who are more solicitous of the rights and privileges of a sex criminal than of what’s right for the state and its citizens.
And that’s the only way Dick McCormack’s statement was on target.
The State Senate is chock-full of goddamn Pharisees.