Geraldine Ferraro: Her Brilliant Career

Last Thursday night I realized the Re­publicans were nervous for the first time in this election. I saw Pat Buchanan on Nightline sneer that Gerry Ferraro had “no experience” to be vice-president of the United States. Buchanan is the fellow who thought Spiro Agnew was a splendid choice for veep in 1968, when his only experience was in stealing. I also saw Phyllis Schlafly on television Thursday night; she was at the national convention of the Moral Majority, and she was say­ing that Gerry Ferraro is part of the “rad­ical-feminist wing.”

Caricature is the first refuge of nervous politicians. Gerry Ferraro scares the right wing because she is so mainstream Amer­ica. She is the mother of three, a former, prosecutor, a regular organization club­house Democrat from Archie Bunker’s district in Queens which went for Richard Nixon in 1972 and Ronald Reagan in 1980. Her reelection slogan in 1982 was “One Tough Democrat.” Yes, Gerry Ferraro is for the ERA and against the MX missile, and she has a decent liberal voting record. But she also got where she is because Tip O’Neill, Donald Manes, and a lot of very tradi­tional political animals understand that she is exactly the right woman to be the Jackie Robinson of politics.

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Her close friend Jimmy Breslin told me on the day she was picked: “This broad is just eight years out of the kitchen. She’s just starting to grow. She’s gonna be president.”

The first time I heard of Gerry Ferraro was in October 1978. She was running for Congress and Carmine Parisi called me up to ask if the Voice would consider endorsing her. At 2 a.m. that morning Parisi rang my doorbell and delivered a stack of information about his candidate. A few weeks later, the Voice published a brief editorial that said: “Geraldine Fer­raro is probably the best this district can possibly elect. She is a reliable vote for pro-labor, pro-consumer legislation. Her opponent, Republican Alfred Delli Bovi, is a little Nixon — ruthless, right-wing, and well-financed.”

As soon as Ferraro arrived in Congress, I began to hear how extraordinary she really was, how her learning curve kept going up, how she was the bridge between feminists and the white male club that rules the House. Last year Barney Frank, Democratic congressman of Massachu­setts, told me: “Gerry is the most effec­tive member of the New York delegation.”

Today there is euphoria and electricity. Today there is nervous caricature. To­morrow the country will see what the vot­ers in her Queens district saw six years ago.

Ferraro will now come under intense scrutiny. So will her husband John, who is in the real-estate business. Already, three reporters from other papers have called me and asked if John Zaccaro is clean. He is.

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Gerry Ferraro is a competent, complete person. And she is an instinctive feminist who was one of two women in her law school class.

When she worked as a prosecutor, peo­ple claimed she got the job because her cousin, Nick Ferraro, was the Queens D.A. But she did an excellent job, espe­cially prosecuting rape cases. I never heard of an instance where one of her cases was reversed.

Gerry Ferraro can’t elect Mondale. She can only help the ticket. The ticket is clearly in trouble in the South, in the West, with younger yuppie voters, with Jewish voters. But overnight I think Fer­raro brought Mondale from 20 points down to eight or 10 points down.

And should the ticket lose, then Al D’ Amato will become the most nervous Republican in the Senate, because his seat is up in 1986, and Gerry Ferraro will come after him next, in her 10th year out of the kitchen, and her learning curve moving off the chart. ■


Showtime 1984: Inside the Political Theater

Inside the Political Theater
July 24, 1984

SAN FRANCISCO — With the excep­tion of Mario Cuomo and Jesse Jackson, the big-name Democrats parading on TV here sound like third-rate sellers of soap. The Democratic Party remains the large­ly unimaginative political organization that began to lose its New Deal base years ago. But for the first time in recent memory there are signs of life within it, and stripped to its essentials, the fight pits the women and minorities, symbol­ized by Ferraro and Jackson, against the still-dominant conservative wing.

The question is whether Jackson and Ferraro will be consumed by the conser­vatives or stake out fresh ground. Just as the Republican Party was refreshed in 1980 with the raw energy of the New Right, the Democratic Party, buoyed by the feminist surge and black voter regis­tration, could begin to find itself this year.

Ferraro is best known as a team player, disciple of Tip O’Neill; unlikely to stray far from his beck and call. Mondale al­ready is flooding her with his own staff, but while Ferraro may appear to be a political pawn, the forces behind her as­cendancy are not so easily controlled.

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Since Jackson’s arrival in San Francis­co, he has sounded a note of reconcilia­tion. He pledged himself to resolve ten­sions between Jews and blacks and offered a public apology: “… if, in my low moments, in words, deeds, or atti­tudes, through error or temper, taste or tone, I have caused anyone discomfort, created pain, or revived anyone’s fears, I sincerely apologize.”

For weeks now, Jackson has been hold­ing secret meetings with Bert Lance. Lance and Jackson are negotiating the terms of the minority planks, and concocting the southern strategy for Mon­dale’s campaign. Jackson is thankful to be cut into the ruling party councils, and with his help Mondale gets a shot at an expanded black vote.

At first, Jackson negotiated with Lance over delegate questions. More recently, Lance sent his advisers to brief Jackson on the economy. Much pleased, Jackson responded by making Lance’s major pro­posals the centerpiece of his convention speech, at least in early drafts.

Thus, stuck incongruously into the midst of Jackson’s powerful, poetic rhet­oric, were Lance’s corny ideas about U.S. banks being in hock to foreigners. It is Lance’s theory that Reagan, in running up the deficit, has made the United States dependent on foreign bankers from whom the country must borrow to keep going.

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Roll Call of Shame

Consider the record of this party over the last four years — what Tom Hayden called neo-Reaganism. The list is telling:

Support for the MX; refusal to oppose the deployment of Euromissiles in any serious way; Democrats in Congress, in­cluding those with liberal credentials, re­peatedly declining to oppose Reagan on Central America, with the result that American-backed contras have laid siege to Nicaragua; standing with Reagan in El Salvador in the face of mounting civilian murder. Even as this convention opened, the party leadership is preparing to back President Duarte, under whose rule the terror in El Salvador has mushroomed.

The Democratic leadership stood with Reagan on the 1981 tax bill — legislation which transferred wealth from the middle class to the rich, and in the process virtually ended the corporate income tax. The neo-liberal wing of the party has, under Gary Hart, mounted a vigorous at­tack on the labor movement as a “special interest” — at a time when the unions rep­resent the only buffer between workers and the aggressive policies of corporate business.

Most recently, the House Democratic leadership created the umbrella beneath which the Republicans successfully pushed through Simpson-Mazzoli, which, among other things, would establish a “guest worker” program for foreign agri­cultural workers. This re-creation of the bracero program — which another era of Democrats fought to eliminate — threat­ens to wipe out the Farm Workers Union, and amounts to one of the most vindic­tive, punitive, racist measures in Ameri­can history.

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The New Democrats

Despite the choice of Ferraro, the Democratic Party has persistently fought the rise of women within its own ranks. Nevertheless, Ferraro’s emergence and the Jackson campaign represent a broad challenge to the rampant neo-Reaganism in the party.

For the women who have had to fight, kicking and screaming, to the top of the Democratic Party, Ferraro’s selection represents an immense victory, and the opening of what surely will be a wider struggle for economic equality.

Ferraro is much more than a feminist candidate. The daughter of an immigrant working mother, she speaks directly to the disenfranchised base of the Demo­cratic Party, the working women who have been most hurt by the recession and placed under savage attack by Reagan’s policies — the last hired and first fired who now populate the irregular work­force and are now a critical factor in American labor.

These women play a major role in the expanding lower middle class, which now consists of 72 million Americans — 30 per cent of the population. They come come from households with earnings between $6000 and $18,000 a year. Since 1978, the lower middle class has grown by a third. An increasing percentage of this class is made up of households headed by wom­en, most of them minorities. It includes millions of young people who have never held a full-time job; people who once held factory jobs and now work for less than $6 an hour in service jobs; and old people living on fixed incomes.

There are within this group enough people to elect a Democratic president, but until Jesse Jackson began his cam­paign in predominantly white New Hampshire you’d hardly have known they existed. It is absolutely true that without Jackson, Ferraro’s nomination would never have been possible. The feminist movement owes a great debt to Jackson, a debt that many women seemed incapable of recognizing in the early moments of this convention.

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Tough Talking Ferraro

Ferraro is a person of progressive polit­ical instincts. Here are a few points she made in an interview with the Voice ear­lier this year:

On the MX: “I have supported re­search and development. I have not sup­ported deployment because it is destabilizing.”

On Nicaragua (asked if she thought it was a Cuban or Soviet satellite): “They are a Marxist government. There is no doubt about that. I think our problem is, frankly, that we expect it to be a democ­racy the way we define democracy, and I don’t think that’s possible.”

On El Salvador: “I would insist that the U.S. government let the people know we expect them to get their own act together, within their own units, to put someone in charge of the government. And probably the most important thing is that they do something about the amount of killing that is going on there. I would exert pressure on them to clean up their act, or they would be without economic aid.”

In one speech this year, talking about the concept of comparable worth, which fundamentally seeks to redefine the so­cial utility of work (the most potentially profound economic subject the feminist movement has taken up), Ferraro de­clared: “A woman with a college educa­tion can expect lifetime earnings equal to those paid to a man who never finished the eighth grade. Groundskeepers are paid more than nurses. Parking lot attendants are often paid more than experi­enced secretaries. We entrust our chil­dren — our most precious resource — to teachers who frequently earn less than truck drivers.”

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A New Feminist Era 

Geraldine Ferraro is not just a sym­bol. Her nomination, as Frances Fox Pi­ven puts it, is a “signal,” a tremor from within. Ferraro’s nomination opens a new era of feminist politics, for the first time placing the genuinely radical perspec­tives of the feminist movement in a far broader national arena.

Comparable worth, for example, en­tails a restructuring of the American economy and could precipitate a struggle of serious proportions with the business community. It is because Ferraro is asso­ciated with these ideas that her candida­cy will in all probability undergo formi­dable challenge.

The vice presidency would be more than a symbolic job for a woman, It offers a forum of real power and, if gained, could spark a political groundswell.

The feminist movement has so far succeeded in spanning class divisions. Things are now apt to change. Its future political course will, in all likelihood, de­pend on how successfully it deals with potentially divisive splits — the extent to which, for example, white middle-class women reach out to include black wom­en, and the measure of cooperation shown to poor working women.

The Republicans already have begun to play on these potential divisions to split the gender gap vote and open a seri­ous attack on the feminists.

As with the environmental movement a decade ago, it is certain that the modern feminist movement will focus increasing­ly on basic economic issues — equal pay for equal work, redressing inequality in the workplace, the social purpose of work in general, the feminization of poverty. In short, Ferraro’s nomination should result in a bold, new opening for feminist poli­tics, and a new radical lens through which to view the economy. ■



  • Leslie Savan is a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism.
  • Nirvana tops the Pazz & Jop Music Critic’s poll. Nevermind was named best album and “Smells Like Teen Spirit” was named best single.
  • Stockard Channing wins the Obie Award for best performance for her role in Six Degrees of Separation. John Leguizamo wins for Mambo Mouth. Blue Man Group is awarded a special citation.
  • After months of debate, the New York City Board of Education approves an HIV/AIDS initiative that makes condoms available in high schools.
  • Rioting begins in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn after a Hasidic Jewish motorist strikes and kills a seven-year-old African-American boy, Gavin Cato. Angry mobs of African-American youths begin assaulting Jews in the neighborhood, killing a 29-year-old rabbinical student visiting from Australia and a non-Jewish motorist who gets lost in the neighborhood.
  • The Village Voice mourns the passing of Wes Anderson, the design director from 1989 to 1992.
  • Leslie Savan and Michael Feingold are finalists for the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism.
  • Arrested Development tops the Pazz & Jop Music Critic’s poll. 3 Years, 5 Months & 2 Days in the Life Of . . . was named best album and “Tennessee” was named best single.
  • Nathan Lane wins the Obie Award for Sustained Excellence of Performance.
  • Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton and Senator Al Gore accept the Democratic nominations for President and Vice President at the Democratic National Convention at Madison Square Garden. Georgia governor Zell Miller says to the delegates: “Not all of us can be born rich, handsome, and lucky, and that’s why we have a Democratic Party.” Clinton and Gore go on to beat incumbents George H. W. Bush and Dan Quayle, and Independent Party candidate Ross Perot.
  • The Voice endorses Jerry Brown for President.
  • The Voice runs story on Geraldine Ferraro and details alleged links between the mob and Ferraro and her husband John Zaccaro.
  • “Savage Love” sex column by Dan Savage debuts.
  • Categories

    Advice to the Lovelorn

    WASHINGTON, D.C—John Kerry and George Bush are two distinctly different people, and yet the platforms on which they are running—with few exceptions—often don’t appear different enough for voters to detect any real difference.

    While Bush made an effort to adopt a more moderate tone at the convention, he is a zealot with a right-wing Christian domestic policy and a cowboy foreign policy. His economic initiatives are driven by old-fashioned cronyism, masked, as always, by the pleasing banner of free-market economics.

    Kerry is not a zealot, but playing to the center-right he frequently comes off as a mealymouthed opportunist who refuses to articulate clear positions. What does Kerry represent? It’s better not to go there.

    The policy “differences” between him and Bush? Take the assault-weapons ban, which beginning this past Monday is removed from semi-automatic weapons like the AR-15. The Republican-controlled Congress let the ban disappear without seriously trying to renew it. Kerry, in an effort to draw support from police officers and gun-control enthusiasts, backed the prohibition. “The NRA put the squeeze on George Bush, and they’re spending tens of millions of dollars to support his campaign,” he said Friday. “Is George Bush going to stand with special interests or with the safety of the American people?” But Kerry is not anti-gun. He makes it clear he backs the right to bear arms, and he waves around a shotgun to advertise that he is a hunter.

    The fact of the matter is that the ban never had any meaning. As soon as it went into effect in 1994, gun manufacturers retooled their weapons to meet its standards, dropping such things as bayonet holders, and kept on selling them. For example, the government had put a limit on the size of a magazine, thinking that one holding a smaller number of bullets would lessen the chance a killer would go on a mass-shooting spree. But magazines made before the ban could be sold, and a brisk trade in them continued.

    So Kerry’s position looks like the worst sort of cynical opportunism. The bottom line: The Washington Post reports that Bill Clinton said the Dems lost 20 House seats because of the ban. The party does not want to lose NRA votes.

    Or take the issue of energy independence. Both candidates say they want to make vehicles less polluting and more efficient. Yet, for decades, both parties have joined to beat down any serious attempt to gain fuel efficiency. And because coal is a staple of the American energy mix, both have fought off strict controls on pollution emissions. The Republican drive was conducted under the banner of free-market economics by two Republican presidents, Reagan and the senior Bush; the Democrats were spearheaded by John Dingell, the longtime Detroit congressman whose wife is a GM lobbyist, and Robert Byrd, who has for years been the coal industry’s champion on Capitol Hill. The fight to prevent costly new rules against pollution and more efficient cars was played out in the halls of Congress while the politicians chirped about clean energy, the beautiful dawn of the solar age in which charming windmills dot the country and send their clean power from city to city. The arguments were farcical. And in this campaign? Same old, same old. There is little difference between the two candidates. Why? Both the energy industry and the automobile makers are prime contributors to political campaigns, and in this election both West Virginia and Michigan are battleground states.

    Or take the issue of health insurance: There doubtless is a difference here, with Kerry inching his way along a path that just possibly could end up with insurance for almost everyone, while Bush has no such intention. Bush says his goal is to bring costs down via the marketplace. By now everyone knows the clichéd goal of looking virtuous by seeming to provide geezers with cheaper drugs is little more than a campaign device.

    At each and every turn, the Democratic candidate’s dweeb team of advisers, now reinforced by a rescue squad straight from hell, tries its best to make its candidate look like he’s saying one thing while he does something else. The adviser team heretofore led by Bob Shrum, a longtime loser (7-0 in bungled campaigns), is now bolstered by John Sasso, the distinguished adviser to the ghastly 1988 Dukakis presidential bid. That was the campaign in which Dukakis’s brainy advisers tried to make him more appealing to the masses by having the Massachusetts governor put a helmet on his head and poke it up out of a tank. People are still laughing at that one. And it was the year of another great moment in the history of political campaigning: The late Lee Atwater, in his most unforgettable moment, lobbed the Willie Horton grenade into the Dukakis bunker.

    Sasso is the man who is supposed to take Kerry’s language and translate it into sharp, pithy lines that will make audiences laugh and/or cry as if on cue. In addition, Sasso himself is often considered to be an ace at negative campaigning, like, for instance, the time Dukakis was opposing the hapless Delaware senator Joe Biden in 1987 for the Democratic nomination. He wrecked Biden’s campaign by accusing the Delaware senator of lifting part of a speech made by Neil Kinnock, the British Labor leader. Dukakis fired Sasso, but then brought him back. Earlier, Sasso distinguished himself by running Geraldine Ferraro’s vice presidential run with Mondale in 1984. For a while, Ferraro was every mother’s dream, until her husband’s mob links to the porn business were exposed. She has been an embarrassment ever since.

    According to the media, Kerry has a sufficient “history” with Sasso that the adviser can ride by his side and offer candid critiques of what’s going on. Kerry was elected lieutenant governor of Massachusetts when Dukakis was elected governor for a second term in 1982, in a campaign Sasso worked on. More recently, Sasso got $100,000 in lobbying fees from Boston’s State Street Bank & Trust Company in 1998, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. State Street reportedly hired Sasso to get some good advice on how to persuade Congress to let people invest part of their Social Security payments in individual, privately managed accounts. Privatizing Social Security is one of the Bush administration’s plans that Kerry says he opposes.

    Mario Cuomo is one politician who testifies to the artful skill of the new adviser, noting that Sasso “will be especially useful in taking a senator with a penchant for nuanced language—that includes an occasional sentence with three commas—and come closer to the rat-a-tat-tat communication that works.”

    There’s a simple alternative to all this jittery nonsense. Why not let Kerry be Kerry? Everyone wants to talk about the war. Why not get him to tell the truth. In Vietnam he was a young man who answered the call of his nation to fight a war his leaders claimed was just and winnable. No one doubts he fought valiantly. In Vietnam he learned firsthand the lessons of war, and on returning home, changed his mind and had the rare courage to stand up for what he believed. There is no reason to skulk around, trying to anticipate Republican attacks on his war record. Kerry has nothing to hide. He is a war hero. His is a profile in courage.

    Thirty-five years later, the same Kerry, now a senator, again answered the call of the nation and his president, and voted to support the war in Iraq, accepting the president’s statements that it was in the interests of our national security to attack. So did most of Congress, convinced that Saddam was a monster and a liar who was secretly amassing weapons of mass destruction. When Kerry, like numerous others, discovered this not to be the case, he opposed Bush’s policies and started calling it the wrong war at the wrong time. He publicly stated there was no easy way out, that we would have to craft an international approach through the U.N., perhaps run by NATO, and in this way gradually disentangle ourselves. This is not a flip-flop. It is a careful, judicious, moderate way forward proposed by a man who knows about war. So let Kerry be Kerry. Whatever happens, please let’s not have another Dukakis.

    Additional reporting: Laurie Anne Agnese


    Kerry’s Catholic Question

    Judas received communion at the Last Supper—from Christ himself, no less—but in some Catholic dioceses across America, John Kerry can’t. The first pro-choice Catholic to ever become the presidential candidate of a major party, and the only Catholic nominee since John Kennedy 44 years ago, Kerry is held to a higher standard by the hierarchy, and that’s made the communion rail a political danger zone for him.

    John and Luke indicate in the Gospels that Judas received bread and water from Jesus, even as Christ revealed that Judas would soon betray him. To this day, the transubstantiated Eucharist remains the greatest daily event of Catholic life, a feast of faith. But, for the first time, and only in America, a handful of partisan bishops are aggressively trying to turn what Catholics regard as the body and blood of Christ into leverage for swing votes.

    From Boston to Sacramento, bishops have been speaking out on the issue for months now—none more outrageously than Bishop Michael Sheridan from Colorado Springs, who contends that Catholics who vote for candidates who favor choice, gay rights, or stem-cell research are ineligible for communion. But New York’s cardinal, Edward Egan, has been conspicuously silent, participating quietly in a recent national bishops conference that issued a statement trying to calm the roiling waters. The statement did not buy the argument of Sheridan and others that canon law required the denial of the Eucharist to either elected officials or voters, saying “bishops can legitimately make different judgments on the most prudent course of pastoral action.”

    Egan is known to believe, like three-quarters of the bishops at the recent conference, that this is a private matter between a prelate and a pol, not a matter for public coercion and humiliation. A recent unnoticed editorial in the archdiocesan paper Catholic New York denounced efforts to use the Eucharist as “a political pawn,” calling “blanket blacklists” of people not entitled to receive communion “problematic,” and attributing the clamor to “pressure politics in an election year.”

    The cardinal will soon face a related challenge—how to deal with the invitation list for October’s Al Smith dinner, the annual Waldorf Astoria white-tie archdiocesan affair that always attracts gobs of media and, usually, the presidential candidates of both parties. For example, that footage in Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11 of Bush saying “Some people call you the elite; I call you my base” was shot at the 2000 dinner, when Al Gore and W. squared off in brief monologues, both sitting next to the then newly installed Egan. The only presidents to win without attending the Smith dinner since its inauguration six decades ago were Harry Truman and Bill Clinton.

    It was Egan’s predecessor, Cardinal John O’Connor, who made himself America’s most partisan prelate in 1984, the last time a pro-choice Catholic appeared on a national ticket, New York’s own congresswoman and Democratic vice presidential candidate, Geraldine Ferraro. O’Connor declared that Ferraro “has a problem with the Pope,” deriding her so often that a spokesman for the Reagan White House told the Voice after the election: “Asking what role O’Connor played in the presidential campaign is like asking what part the Pope played, what part moral principle played.”

    O’Connor wound up barring Ferraro from appearing at the Smith dinner, where Reagan alone was feted. Reagan’s opponent, ex-veep Walter Mondale, repulsed no doubt by O’Connor’s transparent partisanship, claimed he had a scheduling problem, but asked if Ferraro could appear in his place. Though Spiro Agnew had been allowed to appear in Richard Nixon’s stead in 1972, and Nixon subbed for President Eisenhower in 1956, O’Connor said veeps weren’t up to snuff. O’Connor reversed himself in 1996 and decided veeps were fine, asking both Gore and GOP nominee Jack Kemp. He left Clinton out because he’d just vetoed the partial-birth abortion ban bill. To even out the 1996 scorecard, O’Connor also did not invite GOP presidential nominee Bob Dole, who, strangely enough, is said to be under consideration as this year’s featured speaker.

    That may well be where Egan winds up this year—because he and the pope have big-time problems with both Bush and Kerry. Should Egan decide to leave both presidential candidates off the invitation list, it would neutralize the political effect of the event. Should he just invite Bush, it would attract such national attention that it might help deliver a Catholic majority to Bush, who narrowly lost that vote to Gore in 2000. Not only are Catholics the largest religious group in half a dozen key states, from New Mexico to Michigan and Pennsylvania, Bush was the only candidate in the last 36 years to win without carrying the Catholic vote.

    Bush got a taste of just how suspicious the hierarchy is of him when he journeyed last month to Rome for a photo op with Pope John Paul II. The pope took the opportunity—in trembling but forceful terms—to rebuke Bush for his Iraq policies, a view Cardinal Egan clearly shares, as little as it is noted in the New York press. Egan, in fact, was one of four American cardinals who went to the White House on the eve of the war to question the urgency of a unilateral invasion.

    While the cardinals did not publicly discuss their Condoleezza Rice meeting, Cardinal Pio Laghi, who simultaneously met with Bush and gave him a letter from the pope, told an Italian newspaper that he would tell Bush, “From the moral perspective, the question of non-adherence to the just-war doctrine is clear.” The Vatican’s foreign affairs specialist, Archbishop Jean-Louis Tauran, was then calling an Iraq war without U.N. authorization a “crime against peace.” Egan is fully in tune with these Vatican views and those of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which issued a strong statement against the war before Congress passed the authorizing resolution in late 2002.

    While the Times and the rest of the mainstream media devote major play to every single-standard bishop who threatens Eucharistic sanctions against pro-choice politicians, the much broader antiwar views of the American church have been routinely ignored. Egan, who is an authentically pro-life and apolitical prelate, is known to be as upset about the loss of innocent Iraqi life as he is about the unborn. He was one of 22 church leaders from six continents to appear on an international webcast organized by the Vatican shortly before the war, declaring that U.N. weapons inspectors must determine that Iraq posed “a clear and present danger” before war could be justified. Calling the inspectors’ findings “essential,” Egan said “the truth of the danger must be established beyond any doubt” and “clearly set before us” before any invasion, urging that no one “rush into combat.”

    It’s that balancing act of countervailing abortion and war issues—both seamlessly involving life, in Egan’s view—that may force him to take both Bush and Kerry off the invitation list, in sharp contrast with O’Connor and the currently partisan prelates. The former bishop of Bridgeport, Connecticut, Egan has nonetheless been registered in New York since 1985, without affiliating with either party, whereas O’Connor was a registered Republican in Pennsylvania for decades before becoming New York’s archbishop in 1984. The Voice then revealed that O’Connor had registered as an independent here just as he launched his Ferraro attack, claiming on his registration card that he had not been previously registered in an apparent attempt to conceal his prior Republican affiliation. Similarly, Bishop William Weigand of Sacramento, one of the most aggressive prelates on the current communion-denial issue, is also a registered Republican.

    Ironically, the Smith dinner, which raises hundreds of thousands for archdiocesan health programs, was named after the first Catholic nominee for president, who lost to Herbert Hoover in 1928, losing the Democratic South solely because of his religion. Abortion was not a national issue when he or Kennedy ran; but both were pluralists who strongly championed American diversity, with Smith installing Herbert Lehman as New York’s first and only Jewish governor. By denying the dinner as a platform for Bush—whose party has exploited the abortion issue without ever meaningfully delivering on it—Egan will continue in the Smith tradition, understanding that democracy and religious dictate are incompatible.

    Research assistance: Abby Aguirre, Daniel Magliocco, Marc Schultz, and Ned Thimmayya


    Hillary’s Big Problem

    A prediction: the Adirondack black-fly gaffe will be tired by the time Hillary Clinton makes it official. The carpetbagger issue will be old news when the election is held 16 months from now. Even the scandals that haunt her may play as the usual politics-by-sleaze. But there’s one thing about Hillary Clinton that could sink her senate campaign, though it won’t be mentioned except in code. She’s a woman— and no woman has ever won higher office in New York State.

    Consider the casualties:

    Geraldine Ferraro: ran for senator twice, but never got past the primaries.

    Elizabeth Holtzman: another two-time Senate loser.

    Betsy McCaughey: couldn’t top George Pataki, her former boss from hell.

    Karen Burstein: ran for attorney general and lost to Dennis Vacco, a virtual unknown.

    Catherine Abate: creamed by Elliot Spitzer, the current a.g.

    Mary Anne Krupsak: ran for governor but lost to Hugh Carey, hennaed hair and all.

    Bella Abzug: took on Daniel Patrick Moynihan in 1976. Fuggedaboutit!

    New York has had a transvestite governor— Lord Cornbury, who ran the colony from 1702 to 1708 and liked to pose in a gown— but never a woman in the statehouse (unless you count the largely ceremonial lieutenant governor). Nor has any woman ever held court in City Hall. Carol Bellamy was too cold to unseat the huggy-bearish Ed Koch; Ruth Messinger was too liberal to beat Rudy Giuliani (and unable to control her hair).

    Of course, if you believe the media, gender had nothing to do with why all these campaigns came to naught. Ferraro was sunk by her husband’s reputed mob ties (not to mention her abrasive style). Holtzman got mired in a banking scandal (not to mention her icy style). Krupsak wasn’t well-enough known (not to mention disloyal to Carey, her former boss). McCaughey wasn’t qualified (not to mention the fact that she stood up during Pataki’s state-of-the-state address). Burstein was gay (’nuff said). Abzug was . . . well, Bella.

    Do these losses add up to a pattern of bias? No way. Nor does the fact that women constitute only a fifth of the state legislature, and none of the legislative leadership, mean that men rule. Hey, cream rises!

    Never mind that women have done much better in the other northeastern states. New Jersey and New Hampshire have female governors, following the lead of Connecticut and Vermont. Maine had a woman senator, Margaret Chase Smith, in the 1950s. And elsewhere in America, the stats are even more dramatic. Four of the 10 statewide positions in California (including both U.S. Senate seats) are held by women. In Arizona, women occupy all five top state-government posts. The legislatures in Washington and New Hampshire have nearly reached gender equity. Yet, New York, the birthplace of American feminism and the home of Susan B. Anthony, ranks 29th among states in the number of women who hold office. We’re a stretch behind Utah (which elected its first female state senator back in 1896).

    Why this sorry record? Mario Cuomo says it’s because the state’s reputation has more to do with its glory days than its current dotage. “We’re not progressive anymore,” Cuomo notes. “We’re regressive.” This is no news to feminists who have struggled against the glass ticket. “We have an entrenched political system here,” says Galen Sherwood, president of New York NOW. “It’s very much an old-boys network. And what we’ve seen over and over again is a failure of the state’s officials to stand with women candidates when it counts.”

    Sherwood is referring to the common belief that party organizations dominate politics in the Empire State. For women to rise, they must penetrate the interlocking networks of business and patronage that decide who carries the electoral ball. When it comes to gendersharing skills, the Democrats are better than the Republicans, but even in the party of Eleanor Roosevelt, girls get the scraps from the boys’ table. Among the party’s 58 county leaders, for example, women rule only in the
    patronage-lean rural areas.

    Most women who fight their way through this marginalizing system are independent types with their own constituencies. “They tend to come from the left wing of the Democratic party, which is a hard place to run from,” says Ester Fuchs, professor of political science at Barnard College. “And when they run as outsiders, very aggressively, they’re bait for the media and the attack ads.”

    The current head of the state Democratic party, Judith Hope, can be expected to make inroads into this system, but it won’t be easy. As veteran political consultant Norman Adler notes, “the history of politics in New York is that men have been the leaders and women the workers.” The same holds true in the media, where, with some notable exceptions, men are the hunters and women the gatherers of news. With few women writing political columns— and none drawing editorial cartoons— male biases can easily be confused with truth. The press’s cherished image as a Great Leveler goes out the window when it comes to female politicians, though they usually are the underdogs. “Anecdotally, I’d say the New York press is harder on women candidates than on men,” Adler maintains.


    And when it comes to the crucial tasks of raising money and fielding an effective organization, men have a distinct advantage, if only because of the little-boy’s-room atmosphere of politics in New York. “Literally or figuratively, a lot of deals are done around the urinal,” Adler explains. “So you can understand why women aren’t there.”

    Leave it to Dick Morris, the working girl’s best friend, to tell it like it is. “Our image of the Empire State is as a bastion of liberalism, feminism, and good will to women who seek higher office,” Morris wrote recently, in a pointed warning to Hillary Clinton. “In fact, it is one of the most sexist political environments in the nation.”

    Sexist, nous? Didn’t we invent second-wave feminism in the 1970s? Doesn’t New York have more female executives than any other state? Yes to both. But for women who seek higher office, that classic slogan “the personal is political” has a grimly ironic ring.

    “Take the way a character trait is described,” says Ruth Mandell, director of the Eagleton Institute at Rutgers University. “If a man is strong-willed, a woman is shrill. If two men run against each other, it’s a contest, but with two women, it’s a catfight. And there are interminable discussions about hair.”

    When five female candidates for statewide office were asked how gender shaped their fate, four described a very similar experience: what McCaughey calls “a tendency by the media to focus on my appearance and personality rather than on the issues I tried to make part of my campaign.” Her career as a policy wonk was largely ignored, McCaughey insists, in favor of derisive comments about her political inexperience— something that (as the Jesse Ventura saga attests) is often regarded as a virtue in a man.

    Abate was singed by the accusation that she wasn’t tough enough to be state attorney general, even though, as the city’s corrections commissioner, she ran “the largest jail system in the country.” Then there were the comments about her physical appearance. “There’s no question that there’s an emphasis on your clothing, your makeup, and your hairstyle,” says Abate. “You never hear about a male candidate gaining weight.” But Abate’s oddest moment came when one reporter described her as aloof. She agonized about how he could have reached that conclusion. “I had looked in his eyes and answered every one of his questions. Maybe I didn’t hug him.” If she had, he would proably have concluded that she was too
    tender-hearted to be the state’s top cop.

    But if a female candidate is too tough— or her hair too short— she runs of the risk of being gay-baited. “That confirms the stereotype,” Burstein explains. “Here they are, these tough women; they must be abnormal, which translates as ‘dyke.’ ” Of course, Burstein actually is gay and she didn’t try to hide it during her battle with Dennis Vacco, who capitalized on her candor by charging that she supported child pornography. But even if she had been closeted, Burstein would still have had to deal with the curse of the Jewish female politician in New York: bad hair.

    “The first time I ever ran for office,” Burstein recalls, “someone said to me, ‘You were too outspoken and you should have worn your hair differently. I said, ‘Look, my hair is curly and besides I’m not interested in gratifying your ego.’ ” In New York politics, that attitude dooms a woman to be what Burstein is today: a judge.

    Holtzman’s image of being cold (one neocon wag, John Corry, said he couldn’t imagine her in a low-cut dress) not only chilled her Senate campaigns but haunted her tenure as city comptroller. When she failed to recuse herself from a city contract with a bank that had loaned her money, all the terror of her blunt demeanor (not to mention her progressive politics) came pouring out in the form of righteous indignation. As Alisa Solomon noted in these pages, Holtzman has the dubious distinction of being characterized as a witch by liberal Newsday and the conservative Post. This bipartisan consensus demonstrates the powerful currents of demonization that swirl around women who threaten the men’s club that is politics in New York State.

    As for Ferraro: “Right out of the box, she was treated as a bitch,” notes Democratic fundraiser Daedre Levine. “There was constant harping on how her campaign offices were cushy and staffed by people who indulged her. This is something that would be seen as a sign of power in a man.” Yet Ferraro herself has no such complaints. “Primaries in New York State are ethnic events,” she insists, “and Italian Americans do not vote in the Democratic primary. The vote that did come out was heavily Jewish and I got 15 percent of it, so it was virtually impossible for me to win.” (True, the two men who beat Ferraro are Jews, but so are three of the seven women who lost their statewide bids.)


    Still, this being New York, Ferraro’s tribal spin can’t be entirely dismissed. Republican rage at Rudy could help his rival, Long Island congressman Rick Lazio. In the unlikely event that Lazio wins the GOP primary, Giuliani might be forced to run as an independent, and, as Cuomo notes, “If two Italian American conservatives run on different lines, Hillary will win.” Can she win otherwise? “I hope so,” Cuomo says— a classic New York hedge.

    Still, Ferraro’s biggest impediment may not have been her heritage but the fact that she hailed from every upstater’s image of Moloch: New York City. In fact, six of the seven women who failed to break the male-only mold came from the five boroughs. “I think the city is associated with things that frighten people,” Burstein says, “flash and European habits and accents”— not to mention attitude. “When you compound that with being a woman,” notes fundraiser Daedre Levine, “it’s almost impossible to win.”

    So perhaps the most auspicious thing about Hillary Clinton’s likely candidacy is that no one associates her with the city. Like Robert Kennedy (who enjoyed insisting that he came from the Bronx because he’d spent part of his childhood in Riverdale), she is the sort of carpetbagger New Yorkers might prefer to the stereotype of a pushy woman from the teeming streets. Rudy, on the other hand, is a walking punch line from an anti­New York joke: How many mayors does it take to screw in a lightbulb? Nunna-ya-fuckin’-bizness.

    Clinton has another advantage over the
    other women who have run for higher office in New York State: access to big bucks. Her celebrity negates what might be called the no-cash loop. “It’s almost like a fait accompli,” Catherine Abate explains. “If the leadership thinks you can’t raise money, they don’t understand that this can be overcome with organizational support. I raised over $1 million, but that was peanuts compared to what Elliot [Spitzer] could bring to the table. So while I had the environmentalists and women’s groups, he had the Brooklyn organization.”

    No doubt Hillary Clinton will have all of the above. She also has a shot at mobilizing the women’s vote (which usually constitutes the majority of the state electorate), and the minority vote (blacks support her over Rudy by a whopping 88 to 3 percent, according to a recent poll).

    What she won’t have is immunity from the usual impediments for female candidates in New York State: coverage dripping with calumny indirectly related to her gender (consider the numerous cartoons of Hillary as a harridan or dominatrix); subtle accusations that she’s an unnatural woman in a fake marriage (why don’t these charges ever stick to Donna-less Rudy?); and a righteous rage betraying deep-seated and unacknowledged fear. She will be accused of being too tough, too cold, too corrupt, and just plain oogly. These may or may not be traits that apply to Hillary Clinton, but isn’t it interesting that they have also been applied to every other woman who dared to storm the state’s political gates?

    There’s another thing about HRC that bodes ill: she’s seen by many as a closet radical hounding her more “flexible” husband. Indeed, her campaign has been viewed by a number of pundits as an attempt to get back at Bill. (A version of this scenario also haunted Krupsak and McCaughey when they ran against male governors who had chosen them to be lieutenants.) The rule is that conservative women do better in politics because they’re more traditional— and respectful of men. No one has drawn Elizabeth Dole as a witch; it’s an image reserved for progressive women, and especially for avowed feminists. So don’t be surprised to open the paper and see a drawing of Hillary in a pointy black hat, possibly wielding a whip.

    Perhaps the greatest sign of the struggle she faces is the absence of powerful older women to campaign beside her. With Abzug dead and Susan B. Anthony on a silver dollar, there’s no dynastic figure, “no sage, no wise old woman, no Abe Lincoln,” Burstein notes. “All our motherly types stay home.” Hillary Clinton could become that missing female sage who passes the torch to a new generation of New York strivers. But first she has to get past the good old boys.


    Research: Steph Watts


    Gerry Meandering

    Every other person pushing through the subway turnstile outside Shea Stadium seems to know Geraldine Ferraro. “Hey Geraldine, how are ya?” they shout to the U.S. Senate candidate, who on a recent afternoon transformed a patch of pavement near the ticket windows into a campaign stop. Hundreds of baseball fans stop to meet Ferraro. Sweaty, shirtless men squeeze the former congresswoman around the shoulders. And middle-aged women pull out disposable cameras to snap her picture.

    Quick-thinking parents seize the chance to deliver a history lesson featuring Ferraro as Exhibit A. One particularly enthusiastic supporter drags over his daughter. “This lady ran for vice president,” he says. Ferraro, 63, crouches down to shake the small girl’s hand. As he leads her away, the father explains to his daughter: “She’s going to be the next governor.”

    Oops. Not quite right. Ferraro whips around. “Senator! Senator!” she shouts.

    Such is the candidate’s predicament. Everyone knows her name, even if they don’t know she’s running in the Democratic primary on September 15 for a chance to unseat GOP senator Al D’Amato. Since Ferraro began her march down the campaign trail last January, she has posed for hundreds of photos, signed countless autographs, and received far more than her share of hugs. Fourteen years after Ferraro became the first woman to run for vicepresident, she is still reaping the benefits of her moment in the national spotlight.

    But to win the U.S. Senate primary, Ferraro needs much more than fame. She needs votes–enough to beat two tough opponents, Public Advocate Mark Green and Brooklyn congressman Chuck Schumer. In this race, Ferraro has been the front-runner, and she’s embraced a front-runner’s strategy–a light public schedule, few detailed proposals, and hardly any debates. But in recent months, Ferraro’s sizable lead has shrunk so much that she and Schumer are now running neck and neck. Critics charge she has been “coasting on her celebrity” and failed to give New Yorkers a convincing reason to vote for her.

    “What is the rationale for her right now?” says Henry Sheinkopf, a political consultant. “That’s the question people need answered. They like her. They just need to be pushed over the edge.”

    Some political experts wonder if Ferraro’s true motive is a desire to avenge her 1992 defeat in the U.S. Senate primary. That year, she lost to former attorney general Robert Abrams by just one percentage point. After details of mob ties surfaced in the Voice, Ferraro’s Democratic opponents used them to slam her. She accused critics of anti-Italian bias and denied any mafia connections.

    In a January meeting at Jimmy’s Bronx Cafe, Ferraro made an unsuccessful pitch to the chairs of the state’s largest counties explaining why they should back her unanimously. “She basically said she was running because… she was so mistreatedin 1992,” says an attendee, who is supporting one of Ferraro’s opponents. “This was her rationale. It was a horrible, arrogant presentation.”

    But the question that could determine Ferraro’s fate is: Does anyone besides political insiders really care how ill-defined Ferraro’s message is? “I like her because she’s a woman,” says Sonya Delgado, 63, who bumped into Ferraro while the candidate was glad-handing beachgoers at the Fire Island ferries. “It sounds like a stupid reason, but why not? I like what she stands for.” Asked exactly what Ferraro stands for, Delgado pauses, and says, “I can’t think of one thing right now.” The race is now in its final days, and Ferraro will win only if she manages to transform her celebrity into votes–and to convince supporters like Delgado to pull the lever for her.

    Ferraro’s journeyfrom little-known congresswoman to Walter Mondale’s running mate is one of those political events that is frozen in the memories of late 20th-century Americans. She is indeed a historical icon. And her two-year stint as a co-host of CNN’s Crossfire–getting into spitting matches with Republicans–only enhanced her celebrity.

    As soon as they meet Ferraro, people blurt out the ways in which her life has intersected with theirs:

    “You spoke at my brother’s graduation.”

    “I wrote you when I was four years old.”

    “My mother has the same hairstyle as you–she’s had it ever since you ran for vice president.”

    “You spoke at my community college in 1984, and you waved to me!”

    When Gail Brick heard that Ferraro was visiting the county fair at her hometown in Long Island, she showed up with a copy of the candidate’s 1985 autobiography. Ten minutes after Ferraro signs the book, Brick, 61, is still beaming. “Ever since she ran for vice president, I thought she was admirable,” Brick says.

    All this affection may be flattering, but Ferraro says she knows it is not enough. “If they’re not paying attention on election day, what good does celebrity do?” says Ferraro as she strolls through the fair, past vendors peddling homemade potholders, wooden birdhouses, and pickled green tomatoes. “I’m just hoping that it translates into votes because, if it does, in November Al D’Amato is going to be emptying out his office.”

    The path to the U.S. Senate is a long and gritty one. Forget about basking under the lights in CNN’s television studio or commanding crowds of thousands or zooming about town in a long black limo. Ferraro may be a millionaire, but her husband, John Zaccaro, is the one shuttling her around the city these days. Her campaign bus is actually a silver Lincoln Continental with a “Ferraro for Senate” sticker on the back bumper.

    While Ferraro shook hands along the Long Beach boardwalk on a recent muggy Sunday, her husband stayed in the car, hidden behind a pair of dark sunglasses. He remained by the wheel again a day later, while his wife courted several thousand reggae fans at a late-night concert in Bedford-Stuyvesant. But when the campaign trail led to a Greenwich Village street festival on a recent Saturday, Zaccaro walked the streets with his wife.

    Once again, fans scramble to be close to Ferraro. One of the first is Richard Cogliandro, a 47-year-old schoolteacher. Concerned about organized-crime connections, Cogliandro asks: “Do you have anything to hide?”

    Ferraro’s grin tightens slightly. “I have nothing to hide and I never had,” she says.

    Cogliandro tells a reporter later that he found Ferraro’s reply convincing. And the candidate is spared any queries about other ethical issues that have popped up during this campaign, including charges that sweatshops operate in a building she partially owns. “Her husband was the pain in the ass; she’s a doll,” cassette vendor John Rivera explains to his customers as Ferraro and Zaccaro walk by. “He’s the one who got her in trouble last time.”

    When Michael Diehl meets Ferraro, he grills her about the Defense of Marriage Act. This legislation, which opposes same-sex marriage, passed Congress last year. Schumer voted for it.

    “Would you vote for DOMA? That’s what a Mark Green supporter told me,” Diehl asks.

    “Well, as long as you didn’t say that,” says Diehl, a 27-year-old attorney.

    Ferraro pauses for a moment to digest Diehl’s question. Then she changes her answer. “I would’ve voted for the Senate bill… Mark Green’s guy is right.”

    Diehl is not pleased. “That’s bad,” he tells Ferraro. As she saunters away, Diehl turns to several friends, announcing that he’s going to vote for Green instead of Ferraro because, he says, “She’s pandering to her Catholic base.”

    Ferraro has turned down invitations to debate her opponents, and her performance at a recent candidate forum in Brooklyn Heights may explain why. First up is Mark Green, and then Ferraro. Standing behind the podium in the auditorium of St. Francis College, Ferraro rattles off the reasons voters should pick her. Near the top of the list is her own life story.

    “My grandmother had to sign her signature with an X because she didn’t know how to write,” she tells the 200-person crowd. “When my father died when I was eight… my mother said, ‘The one thing I want my children to have is an education.’ That would be my priority in the Senate: making sure every child has an education.”

    Ferraro’s personal history may be inspiring, but it doesn’t always persuade her listeners. Nor do her frequent references to her legacy as a feminist pioneer. In July, Ferraro gave a speech emphasizing the importance of electing women because “we bring another dimension to the political process.” But playing the gender card may not be enough, especially when there are now 62 women in the House and Senate and female politicians are no longer a novelty.

    At the candidate forum, Green boasts of his longtime career as a consumer advocate and promises to keep fighting for reforms of campaign finance and HMOs. Then he dazzles the audience with detailed answers to their questions about everything from the Gowanus Expressway to the Brooklyn waterfront.

    Asked what she would do about congestion on the Gowanus, Ferraro says, “I would work with the Gowanus Expressway Coalition… I would look at alternatives to what the city is proposing… We’ve got to do something about it… We’ve got to look at what we can do.”

    Afterward, two friends linger on the college steps to have a smoke and swap opinions. As Democrats who are closely following this race, these women are exactly the sort of people who actually go to the polls on primary day–the type of voters who could decide Ferraro’s fate. “I thought her presentation was flat and vague,” says 45-year-old Erica Zurer. “On local issues, either she had no knowledge, didn’t do her research, or didn’t care. That was very disturbing.”

    Her friend agrees. “I’m offended by the fact that she appears to think she’s entitled to the nomination,” says Susan Breslin, who trekked from Manhattan to hear the candidates. “She has to prove she’s better than the others. She has to fight for it.”

    The two women do not hold their tongues as Ferraro herself exits the building. But Ferraro ignores them. Even as she clicks down the stairs in her black pumps, a man is moving into the sixth-floor window of the building across the street. “Hey, Gerry! Gerry! Up here!” he shouts. Ferraro grins and waves. Then she climbs into her Lincoln Continental and her husband drives off.

    Research assistance: Jennifer Del Medico


    On the Mark

    Give Mark Green some credit. In the waning days of his Senate campaign, trailing in the polls and in the all-important fundraising sweepstakes, the city’s public advocate has not resorted to demagoguery—no promises to crack down on crime, welfare cheats and big government.

    Instead, he’s been turning up the populist rhetoric even more, talking about health care reform, after-school programs, and immigrants’ rights. But Green, 53, is a populist with a flair for drama (perhaps the result of his cozy connections to Hollywood types like Warren Beatty, Billy Baldwin, and Sarah Jessica Parker among others). On August 31, he brought before reporters and cameras victims of HMO abuses: a man whose HMO refused to pay for a new wheelchair; a police officer whose father was prematurely discharged from a rehab center following a stroke; a man whose stepson died after his HMO refused to approve treatment for a congenital heart disease. Green used the occasion to outline an ambitious 20-point plan for reforming HMOs and ensuring consumer protection. He’s not being pious. He truly believes this is the path to victory on September 15.

    “Money talks, consumers vote,” Green says, in a familiar refrain. (No candidate uses the word consumer more than Mark Green.)

    “This is a campaign contest based on her polls, his ads, and my record of results.” The “her” is Geraldine Ferraro, of course, and the “his” is Brooklyn Congressman Chuck Schumer, both better known in Greenspeak as “my worthy opponents.” That’s about the highest compliment he gives either of them these days. As the primary draws near, Green, unlike Schumer–as many pundits predicted–has been the aggressor, injecting some life into what has been a lackluster race. Until Green took the offensive, zinging Schumer with razor-sharp analyses of his congressional record, the campaign was a dreadfully dull affair, filled with tedious “candidates forums” and other relatively innocuous events. As Green has repeatedly said in recent weeks: “People understand the difference between substance and slander. Let’s not stifle debate and bore voters to death.”

    Now that the post­Labor Day period has arrived, many believe the race will tighten. “It’s a tough campaign to call,” one frustrated Democratic strategist observed. “In primaries, people are usually campaigning in the same arena–there’s a lot of overlapping. These candidates are coming at totally different angles: one candidate is about money [Schumer], one candidate is about fame [Ferraro], and one candidate is about ideology.”

    The question remains whether there are enough ideological voters on the left to propel Green to victory. Popular pols like Rudy Giuliani and George Pataki have eschewed party labels and stressed competence. And thanks to Bill Clinton’s despoiling of whatever principles were left in the Democratic Party, Green may have a tough time finding the right audience in 1998.

    The former Nader raider will have none of it. On the campaign stump, he draws a stark contrast between himself and his opponents, depicting them as sellouts looking for a cheap ride to Washington. “If you want a politician on both sides of the issue, there are other folks running,” he told the congregants at the New Life Center of Truth, a black church in East Flatbush, with David Dinkins and Councilwoman Una Clarke by his side last Sunday. “There will be candidates running who have more money than I do, God knows,” he told an impeccably dressed crowd at City Councilman Lloyd Henry’s church earlier in the morning. “They’re better at calling donors, I’m better at suing them. And if you think I have been on your side all these years on tobacco companies, HMOs, and police misconduct, will you be on my side September 15?” Needless to say, an amen corner erupted from the previously subdued churchgoers.

    For many months, Green has been aggressively courting the black vote, from AfricanAmericans in Harlem to West Indians in Brooklyn to Haitians in Rockland County. Clearly, Green enjoys a stronger rapport with blacks than most white Democrats. He got an enthusiastic reception at a subway stop in Harlem last week, warmly greeted by most (yes, most) of the local straphangers. An elderly Harlem resident, clad in funky ’70s polyester with a big collar, stopped to chat with the public advocate. “See that building?” he said, pointing to a high-rise on Lenox Avenue. “Most of the people there are voting for you!”

    “He’s up here where the people are,” the cigar-chomping Harlemite later told the Voice, refusing to give his name. “I don’t see the other politicians up here. You see them on the damned television. But he’s here, right in the center of Harlem, on 135th Street.”

    Indeed, Green’s campaign has managed to reach out to a broad section of New York’s liberal mosaic. Consider his schedule one day in late August: a subway stop on Crown Heights; a City Hall press conference advocating for a stronger Family and Medical Leave Act; a subway stop in Harlem; a street festival in Harlem; a black church in the Bronx; a meeting with a group of Chinese American acupuncturists and business leaders; a meeting with a Latino group in Williamsburg. But he hasn’t forgotten the white liberals either. He spent one sweltering Saturday morning in Park Slope with hundreds of shoppers in the green market at Grand Army Plaza. Purveyors and consumers of organic foods tend to be Mark Green’s people, even though Schumer lives in the neighborhood. Comfortable in his element, Green tossed one-liners as easily as he gave out pamphlets. The jokes were terrible, of course, but he’s Henny Youngman by most politicians’ standards.

    “May I give you some propaganda?” he offered a woman rummaging through a crate of apples, handing her some literature. “It’s largely accurate.”

    “Vote for me!” he shouted into a crowd under a tent of tomatoes the size of softballs. “I’ll get you half off on all produce. It’s corrupt, but economic.” Most of his jokes got only a smile, but that one brought the tent down.

    Green can shift gears with amazing alacrity, effortlessly going from jokester to earnest campaigner to Lee Atwater­like attack dog. In a surprising development, the object of Green’s scorn has not been the vulnerable Geraldine Ferraro, but Chuck Schumer. For weeks, Green has relentlessly pounded away at Schumer’s record, painting the nine-term congressman as a comfy insider. “He’s a legislative bureaucrat, not a progressive leader,” Green told the Voice. “He’s done good work on guns and banks, but those are not the issues of ’98.HMOs, tobacco, campaign finance reform, and education are. And those are the issues on which he has no significant record. He had to create a record by spending millions on TV ads. It’s easy to go after the NRA when you’re a Brooklyn Democrat. Where has he been on HMOs and tobacco and Giuliani and D’Amato all these years?”

    Green says he’s focused more on Schumer because the congressman has a record, whereas Ferraro has been out of Washington since 1984. Political insiders, however, say this is a deliberate tactic on Green’s part. “It makes sense,” one party activist says. “If Mark just laid back, then the race would be between Chuck and Geraldine. What he wants to do is make it impossible for people to leave him out of the game. If he spent his time attacking Ferraro, he’d look like the bad guy, and that wouldn’t do anything but help Chuck. Attacking Schumer means that he keeps himself in the game a lot better.” Of course, it’s also an easier way to get free media, something the penurious Green, who’s no slouch when it comes to hamming it up before TV cameras, badly needs.

    So how can Green win? Ironically, he could benefit the most from the expected low voter turnout. In 1986, when Green upset John Dyson despite being considerably outspent, the turnout was only 13 percent, or 600,000 votes. In 1992, when Al Sharpton was in the race and the Democrats were looking to take over the White House, more than a million voters came out to the polls, upping the turnout to 25 percent. Election analysts are predicting a turnout this year at somewhere around 20 percent or less. Lower turnout usually means the primary will be decided by the more ideological voters, the ones more likely to vote for Mark Green. With his strong popularity in New York City, Green should be able to corral a quarter of a million votes.

    Although downstate is certainly Green’s base (he was the largest vote-getter citywide in both 1993 and ’97), he has not conceded upstate to Ferraro, as many believe. He has campaigned vigorously in various upstate cities for the past two years. He has even won the endorsements of some major black elected leaders, including William Johnson, the mayor of Rochester, who will be lending his voice to Green’s radio commercials, and Arthur Eve, the assembly’s minority speaker from Buffalo. His work upstate helped him win the rural caucus last spring. Today, Schumer is expected to take the Albany area, Ferraro will likely do well in Erie County, while Green has good support in Rochester. Many believe the race should be decided in New York City and the ‘burbs, where all three candidates have various strengths and weaknesses. For Green, the biggest problem may be money, though he says he has enough to win the primary.

    “I think of fundraising the way Mark Twain thought of bourbon: too much is not enough,” he says. “You always want more.”

    As of two weeks ago, Green had raised a total of $2.8 million, with $1.1 million cash on hand. In the first days of September, Green began airing ads in upstate New York (a cheaper market), one featuring the candidate facing the camera saying what he believes in amid a bucolic background of trees and grass. Another commercial shows Green jogging with a group of mock politicians following him, in an obvious metaphor for the progressive candidate. (A car chasing Green in the commercial has Schumer stickers on it.) In the last week of the campaign, set to air as the Voice hits the newsstands, he will unveil his coup de théâtre: a commercial featuring the paralyzed actor Christopher Reeve, enthusiastically endorsing Green. Intentionally designed to tug at the heartstrings (and rally the party faithful, since Reeve is a longtime Democratic activist), the ad will run statewide.

    In the end, the primary will be decided by those very ideological voters Green is actively targeting. But will they go with the lucrative pragmatist Schumer, who perhaps has a better shot at beating D’Amato, or the principled idealist Green, who would have to take on the Fonz’s $12 million war chest?

    Green thinks the issue is clear cut. As for campaign finance reform, while on the stump last week the candidate observed, “Hearing [Schumer] denounce the money system under which he’s raised $13 million–the most ever in American history in a primary–reminds one of Elmer Gantry denouncing sin.”


    The Un-Gerry

    During Geraldine Ferraro’s 1994-­1996 stint as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, she was one of the few delegates to oppose a host of popular initiatives championed by African and other nonwhite nations. There are also indications–contrary to claims she is making in her campaign for the U.S. Senate–that Ferraro resisted efforts to condemn anti-Semitism in a historic UN resolution.

    Her opposition to a ban on the international export of hazardous wastes, the calling of a world conference on racism, affirmative action in the staffing of the Centre for Human Rights, and the inclusion of a national “right to development” in the UN pantheon of rights put her at odds with the overwhelming majority of the 53 nations that make up the commission at Geneva. Were her positions widely known now, they might also put her at odds with black, Latin, Asian, Jewish, and other liberal voters in the September 15 primary. Mark Green, who is also running in the primary, told the Voice he would have backed the UN resolutions; Ferraro’s other challenger, Chuck Schumer, did not respond to inquiries.

    While Ferraro was hardly free to make U.S. policy on these issues, she did play a role in shaping it, and in some instances her stance differed from her Clinton-connected predecessor’s or successor’s. In a written response to Voice questions, her press office insisted that her UN positions were “the administration’s point of view, not always her own.” She has, however, often cited actions she took as ambassador that could help her with New York voters, such as her insistence in campaign literature that she successfully “fought against singling out Israel for unfair criticism at the UN.” If she takes credit for Clinton policies supported by most local voters, she can expect blame when they are not.

    Her reported reluctance to back the anti-Semitism amendment is drawn largely from an account by New York Post columnist Ed Koch, who accused her in March 1994 of “weeks of disinterest” on the issue. “She only pushed after receiving a telephone call from Washington reading her the riot act,” Koch wrote. Edgar Bronfman of the World Jewish Congress and Morris Abram of UN Watch pressed her to include anti-Semitism among the forms of racism listed. But, according to Koch, “she declined, indicating she was more concerned with women’s issues and supporting a positive message on the Israel/PLO peace process.”

    Koch noted that Turkey “moved to save the situation by proposing” the amendment, and that the State Department–“which had been deluged with complaints”–instructed Ferraro to push it.

    UN minutes indicate that Ferraro, who Koch says was “outraged

    that the Jewish community had brought her inaction to the State Department’s attention,” did add a second reference to anti-Semitism to the Turkish resolution. But the minutes disclose no U.S. role in the placement of anti-Semitism in the resolution’s preamble.

    Nonetheless, Ferraro’s literature says that “under her leadership, the U.S. delegation successfully initiated the first resolution” on anti-Semitism, fulfilling the Koch prediction that Ferraro “will claim it as her victory.” Koch, who says he stands by his story, would “not attack her now on the issue” because she is a “supporter of Israel” but noted that “other people can.”

    One Jewish leader appointed to the UN delegation by Ferraro, Howard Squadron, takes issue with the Koch version, insisting that she asked him “in the very beginning” to do a speech on the issue. Squadron, who has endorsed Ferraro, said there were “complaints to the State Department about supposed foot-dragging,” but it was “a bum rap on Gerry.” Though Squadron is very specific about approaches he made to get the resolution passed, he can’t point to a single Ferraro action.

    Squadron attributes the passage of the amendment to the temporary “lovefest” that followed the September 1993 Rabin/Arafat handshake on the White House lawn. Nonetheless, Ferraro has not only laid claim to the anti-Semitism amendment, but to winning the “first positive resolution about the peace process,” even though the UN General Assembly passed its endorsement 155-3 months before the Human Rights Commission.

    Ironically, one of the excuses Ferraro is said to have given Bronfman and Abram for not pushing the resolution on anti-Semitism–namely, that she was “more concerned with women’s issues”–also comes up in the context of a speech she delivered at the commission in 1996 against a third global conference on racism. Critics point out that she and Hillary Clinton headed the U.S. delegation to Beijing in 1995–amid great fanfare–for the Fourth World Conference on Women.

    UN minutes indicate that Ferraro “did not support” a racism conference because of its estimated $2 million cost, adding that she did not favor any more UN gatherings until the recommendations of the far more costly women’s event were implemented. One Ferraro concern might’ve been that U.S. policies, particularly on immigration and the death penalty, were slated for conference review. This year, however, a black American delegate, Betty King, spoke positively about the conference, set now for 2001, saying the U.S. “planned to participate actively.”

    Ferraro’s three-year, part-time UN post was her only public service since she left Congress at the end of 1984, and she frequently cites it as “foreign policy experience” that her opponents lack. She mentioned it in the third paragraph of her announcement speech in January, recalling “the ideals I fought for in that forum” and saying it taught her “what America at its best means to all the world.”

    One “ideal” Ferraro fought for was the protection of U.S. exports of toxic wastes and products to developing countries. The issue came up at the 1995 and 1996 commission sessions, and Ferraro voted both times against resolutions to control or ban “illicit dumping.”

    In 1996, she expressed agreement with the Italian delegate who argued that any commission action would duplicate the efforts of another UN body that was championing a ban (she didn’t mention that the U.S. opposed those efforts as well). All of the 16 nations that voted against the resolution except Japan were white; all of the 32 who supported it were nonwhite. Neither Ferraro nor any other opponent of the ban challenged a fact in the staff reports behind the resolution:

    • Scandals in Africa–“including the discovery of contracts between Western companies and African countries whereby the companies paid a pittance for land on which to dump toxic products”–led the Organization of African Unity to declare the trafficking “a crime against Africa and the African people.” Since the OAU acted, half of U.S. exports have been going to Latin America.
    • “The history of the international trade in dangerous wastes shows that they inevitably move toward areas with the least political and economic power to refuse them,” with the U.S., Germany, and two others acting as the “largest waste-exporting countries.” Three million tons of dangerous cargo–from lead batteries, plastics, and scrap to restricted pesticides–were “legally” shipped to developing countries between 1989 and 1993.News accounts have identified the worst U.S. examples: “massive shipments of mercury waste to South Africa,” furnace dust from steel mills to Mexico, fertilizer laden with lead and cadmium to Bangladesh, and an eventually voided $600 million contract with Guinea-Bissau to dump arsenic, a chemical weapon called phosgene, and lethal methyl isocyanate gases. Trade unions in India led protests this year against a U.S. Navy contract to transport vessels contaminated with asbestos, PCBs, and lead to Indian shorelines for demolition.

      Although Ferraro’s UN votes condoned these activities, her office told the Voice that she would support an export ban if elected to the Senate.

      Ferraro was just as indifferent to thisThird World bloc about charges that the human rights staff was overloaded with Westerners. In explaining her opposition to a resolution seeking the recruitment of personnel from nonwhite countries, Ferraro endorsed the comments of the Netherlands delegate that the staff “was already recruited” on an “equitable basis.” In fact, 53 percent of the staff was from developed countries, compared to 25 percent of the membership.

      Though 24 nonwhite nations were completely unrepresented and Iran was the only nonwhite country with as many as three staffers, the U.S. had seven, Italy five, France four, and Spain four. Ferraro’s office now says the resolution “required quotas,” though it refers exclusively to “geographic distribution” and sets no numerical goals.

      But it was Ferraro’s1994 reversal of the U.S. position on the right to development–a top UN priority for the Third World–that pitted her against both nonwhite and many Western nations. In explaining her reasons for rejecting a resolution backed by her Clinton-anointed predecessor, she railed against efforts to commit the UN to the right as “a diversion” and a waste of “scarce resources that could better be used to protect all human rights.” Only Japan and Britain joined her in voting against the resolution.

      In 1995, Ferraro again led the fight against recognition on this issue, which developing countries see as an attempt to get the West to understand that economic rights are as significant as civil liberties. She finally relented in 1996, when an “evaluation mechanism” overseeing implementation of the resolution was replaced with “voluntary progress reports” by individual countries.

      Ferraro still expressed “misgivings” about the resolution, blaming emerging countries for their own lack of development. “If governments are not prepared to provide the internal conditions needed for all human rights,” she said, “it should come as no surprise if the right to development continued to be unfulfilled.”

      Like so much else about Ferraro, her UN record has gone unexamined, partly as a result of a campaign of intimidation. She has silenced her opponents and the press by posing as a battered woman abused by what, without a shred of factual evidence in rebuttal, she calls”smears.” She is either on the way to her final or her finest moment–ducking debates, real issues, and even her own history–with a free pass from a muzzled media.

      With special reporting from Dan Steinberg

      Research: Anne Benjaminson and Nicole White


    Ex’ed Files

    In the closetlike archive room of the Marymount Manhattan College library lie dozens of boxes of documents— correspondence, appointment diaries, phone logs, legislative memos, and other materials—that constitute the congressional papers of U.S. Senate candidate Geraldine Ferraro. Ferraro donated the documents to Marymount—her alma mater—when she left the House of Representatives in 1985, after six years in Congress. But though many of the records are neatly catalogued in blue file boxes, no one has ever been allowed to see them.

    For the last 13 years, Ferraro has fiercely guarded the papers. She even unsuccessfully fought a 1987 subpoena served on her by the Queens District Attorney seeking documents contained in the collection. Indeed, a Voice review of the archive practices of 20 former members of both the House and the Senate has found none was more secretive than Ferraro. Unlike the others, Ferraro continues to pursue higher public office. Still, as an applicant for a Capitol Hill seat, she is sitting on the best historical record of what she did during her previous Washington service.

    After Ferraro announced her Senate candidacy early this year, her campaign manager, David Eichenbaum, agreed to look into the question of making some of the records available, but he later refused to do so. Contacted last week, Eichenbaum, who has since left the campaign, said, “Nothing’s changed,” adding that he doesn’t “expect they’re going to be made available.”

    Ferraro’s current communications director Stephen Gaskill says that the main reason the files have remained inaccessible is that cataloguing is incomplete, and he adds that the campaign does “work with the school on the access question.”

    But a Voice visit revealed that many of the files have been catalogued. Others sit in large brown cartons awaiting processing. And for its part, Marymount says that it is “just housing [the papers] for Ms. Ferraro.” Martina Leonard, the assistant to Marymount president Regina Peruggi, says the school doesn’t even have much information about the records, and adds that the catalogued files were processed by Ferraro’s staff. When people ask to view the materials, the school “refers them to the campaign.” Leonard adds, jokingly, “I don’t even know if we have a key.”

    According to Senate historian Richard Baker, there are “as many different processes as there are members” when it comes to the methods by which former members of Congress archive their papers. They may donate them to a library, they may keep them in their own basement, or they may destroy them—the papers are the members’ personal property. While several former members—such as Barbara-Rose Collins of Michigan and Dick Swett of New Hampshire—have not archived their papers at all, those who have normally open all documents or stipulate terms for review.

    Ferraro’s practice of donating her materials to a college library, then restricting them while setting no future date for public review, is unusual.

    For example, Ferraro’s fellow New Yorker and former representative Elizabeth Holtzman, who ran for the Senate against Ferraro in 1992, archived her congressional papers at Radcliffe College’s Schlesinger Library in 1981. While only clippings, audiovisual material, and some publications about the Nixon impeachment hearings are officially open, the library makes available a “finding aid” to assist researchers seeking any other materials stored there. This includes “correspondence, awards, records of casework and community work, speeches, telephone logs, and financial records,” according to reference assistant Ellen Shea. Says Shea, “access is available to researchers who have obtained [Holtzman’s] prior written permission.”

    Even former members who have been targeted by criminal or Ethics Committee investigations (as Ferraro has been) are more forthcoming with their records than she is.

    David Durenberger, the Minnesota Republican who left the Senate in 1994 after serving for 16 years, was the target of several Senate Ethics Committee investigations. Yet his papers, archived at the Minnesota Historical Society, are far more accessible than Ferraro’s. To gain access to the 418 cubic feet of material—which, according to reference archivist Ruth Bauer Anderson, includes “voting records… audio and video tapes… schedules, correspondence… and a sampling of grant and project files,” one must fill out a simple application that requires only basic information. The applicant must also sign an agreement acknowledging understanding of copyright, libel, and attribution. Says Anderson, “I don’t think [Durenberger’s] ever turned anyone down,” including the press.

    Dennis DeConcini, the Arizona senator who was investigated for his relationship with indicted S&L owner Charles Keating, has sent 2200 boxes of his papers to his alma mater, the University of Arizona. DeConcini says he has “no plans to restrict anything.” He admits that he kept 400 boxes behind, but says that they contain things as insignificant to his legislative past as “model airplanes and plaques.”

    Paula Hawkins, the former Republican Senator from Florida—who left Congress in 1986, about the time that Ferraro did—has archived some of her papers at the University of Florida. The collection, which includes “approximately 90 boxes” of materials, is open to researchers. “I don’t know of any restrictions,” says Frank Orser, the manuscript librarian. Hawkins was the target of an investigation regarding HUD money given to Miami by the Reagan administration in conjunction with Hawkins’s troubled 1986 reelection campaign.

    Hawkins’s current staff acknowledges that “some vital papers are in storage.” But her relative openness stands in sharp contrast to Ferraro’s secrecy. Indeed, it’s not uncommon for a former member to seal some papers until a certain date, and then open them to the public. But Ferraro has turned a college library into a warehouse and indefinitely padlocked the doors.