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Monday, August 22, 2005


[Note: This post was designed to make Greg Burgas ill.]

It was probably in 4th or 5th grade when I learned the meaning of the term carpetbagger. By that time, I was reading the op/ed pages of our local newspapers in Binghamton. I recall that columnist William F. Buckley suggested that Robert F. Kennedy was a "carpetbagger" for being a Massachusetts and/or Virginia resident running for U.S. Senate in 1964. I thought his point was pretty sound, and we had a perfectly good "Rockefeller Republican" named Kenneth Keating. So I was disappointed that Kennedy beat Keating in 1964. As it turned out, Keating ended up as a justice on the New York State Court of Appeals (the highest court, despite its name) and U.S. Ambassador to India, so things turned out all right for him.

Of course, Kennedy was assassinated in June of 1968 and was replaced by Republican Charles Goodell that September. Jamestown, the heart of his district, was NOT a bastion of progressivism, so his transformation from a moderate Congressman to Kennedyesque Senator was astonishing to most. The Senate race in 1970 was among Goodell (cross-endorsed by the Liberal Party), equally progressive Democrat Richard Ottinger, and Conservative James Buckley.
(The terms Liberal and Conservative in the previous sentence refers to actual political parties in the state, not just philosophies; the Conservative Party still exists, though the Liberal Party died a few years ago.).
James Buckley was born in New York, but was most recently from Connecticut, yet I don’t recall his brother William complain about HIM being a "carpetbagger."

For the 2000 race, a woman who was residing in the District of Columbia, and had roots in Arkansas and Illinois, bought a house in Chappaqua with her husband in order to run for the U.S. Senate. Of course, that was Hillary Clinton, and the "carpetbagger" label was exhumed yet again, as you can see from this August 1999 cartoon:

Now, with New York governor George Pataki announcing that he’s not running for reelection in 2006 (because he would lose, I think), so he can plan to run for President (the analysts tell us- hey, maybe it's BOTH reasons), William Weld, born in New York, but former governor of Massachusetts, is planning to run for the New York statehouse. He's won't be considered a carpetbagger in the traditional sense, since he has been in NYS for the past five years. Still, I believe some folks will at least pause for voting for a person for governor who once governed another state. Yet Weld may be the strongest opponent against the presumed Democratic nominee, state Attorney General Eliot Spitzer. The AG has been busy doing the job of the SEC and other federal and state agencies because they don't seem to be able to do it themselves.

As an old political science major, I look at politics with a sense of wonder, the type of fascination one has watching a fire or rubbernecking at a car wreck.


Mrs Lefty said...

You know what, I never knew what a carpetbagger was until I read this post. thanks Roger.

Greg said...

That doesn't make me ill. Nice try, though. I don't mind carpetbaggers too much - there are a lot more of them than the famous ones, after all. Once they get to DC they all become corrupt and add pork to bills that keep their constituents happy, so that's just that. It's all about the corruption, man, and you don't need to be a carpetbagger for that!