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The Chuck We Used to Know

April 7, 2010

Recent polls have shown a surprising decline in the popularity of Chuck Schumer, New York’s senior senator. His favorable rating, usually the highest among statewide elected officials, dipped below 50 percent in two recent surveys. Most analysts think the drop is symptomatic of a general anti-incumbent feeling, and not directly related to any specific misstep by Schumer.

This is probably true, although Schumer’s churlish behavior aboard an airline a while back certainly didn’t help his numbers with women voters. He had an argument with a stewardess who wanted him to turn off his cell phone. He used the word that rhymes with witch, and Sen. Kirstin Gillibrand, sitting next to him, pretended not to hear.

One thing you can always count on with Schumer, however, is that he’ll go back to basics. He’ll do what got him to where he is, which is to outwork everyone else. Today, for example, Schumer has three press events in the North Country. He’s calling for better screening of nuclear plant workers in Oswego. He’s calling for a crackdown on China’s “currency manipulation” in New Hartford. And he’s announcing a push for federal funds to improve a bridge in Ogdensburg.

For Schumer, there’s no event too small and no issue unworthy of his attention. He once held a news conference in Newburgh to decry the prevalence of Canadian Geese that were fouling a local park.

There’s a school of political thought that argues this is what pols should do – articulate the concerns of the people. And there’s another school that says that what matters most is results. In this regard, how many of Schumer’s news conferences have led to definitive action and results? The last time we checked, geese still crap in the park.

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