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REALITY CHECK -October 11th Update with Readers Responses-
Senator Quitter or the Ballad of a Gutless Swine
James Campion

Let's make sure I've got this straight. Democratic Senator from New Jersey, Robert Torricelli, woefully diving in the polls, decides he will not run a race he cannot win. And a man whom the party defended like the last beer at a frat bash for six months is unceremoniously shoved off the proverbial plank with a month to go. AND...his former opponent and surprising leader with the final leg remaining in this mid-term madness, Douglas Forrester, who has based his campaign on calling for the senator's head since announcing his candidacy, now wants him to honor his campaign.

I think I made my point last week: I do not want to get into the shady end of this mess of Jersey politics at this juncture of my career without some buffers in these warring camps. Let that read: I am not about to start uncovering the rotten cheese inside this fucking abortion without someone on the inside at least running interference for me.
This is not 1992, and I'm no longer a single, half-sober punk with nothing to lose. I will not go to the mat with these freaks for this column or any other space in a national publication to uncover the levels of disgust this story implies.

Having put that out there, and not necessarily as an excuse for laying off the normal hammer this space wields, but to keep a safe distance from a story I'd previously ignored. One that I'm now forced to face because last week I foolishly broached Torricelli's doom, and within two days of its publication, he bails.
And so, keeping in tune with gutless cop-outs and half-ass disingenuous offerings, I present the following conversation to stand as some kind of coverage. It was taped on the morning of 10/3 with my main Dem insider, whom the readers of this space know as Dibbs.

jc: What the fuck is going on?
Dibbs: How exactly do you mean?
jc: When the governor of the state, a Democrat, spends a Saturday afternoon radio show painting his party's incumbent senator as St. Francis of Assisi, and by Monday evening cannot be found for comment while the guy quits his campaign in a blubbering staged fiasco, it's time to ask that question.
DB: First of all, and I know you won't buy this, and frankly, I don't care, because it is, as you like to say, the stone cold truth: Senator Torricelli made that call on his own, against - and let me make this painfully clear - against the better wishes of Governor James McGreevy and the major party people.
jc: Bullshit. You want to know how I see this?
DB: Not particularly.
jc: The national party people leaned on McGreevy and the predominantly Democratic government to deliver New Jersey in a tight race to keep control of the senate, because there is no chance in hell the Dems are keeping the House and everyone with half a brain knows you could run a cadaver against a Republican in this state and win, but a smug crook is too much for even these poor people to take.
DB: Wrong.
jc: Oh, I believe that's 75% of it. The other quarter stems from the "wolf in the hen house" idea that McGreevy's party base is threatened if he allows a wild card Republican rich guy to slide next to the other Democratic rich guy, Jon Corzine.
DB: I think I just stated that the power base of this party backed a Torricelli run, regardless of the negative press and poll numbers. And let me remind you that Robert Torricelli was exonerated in a court of law, which apparently means nothing to the media or the Republican Party.
I think the last few years have proven that.
jc: I'm talking politics here, not law. You cannot have that much evidence and allegations go against you within a calendar year of an election and expect people to concentrate "on the issues".
DB: I think we all know that there is no platform for the Forrester campaign beyond "Hey, I'm not Robert Torricelli." It's a disgrace.
jc: Good segue. Speaking of the law and " a disgrace", what rights does Torricelli have--let me rephrase that--what recourse, politically, do the Dems have to survive this?
DB: If you're referring to the state charter on this sort of thing, it is not without precedent. I think the state Supreme Court ruling backs that up, so we're talking mainly about semantics. If Torricelli were to resign his post, which he refuses to do based on salary and pension concerns, the governor could postpone this election, forcing Forrester to spend money up to 12 months to keep the heat on.
jc: But Torricelli didn't resign. He dropped out.
DB: Despite all this predictable posturing by Forrester, believe me when I tell you, the Republicans want this ruling to stick.
jc: Especially running a fossil like Frank Lautenberg into this cauldron?
DB: Crook? Fossil? I see talking to you today has been it's usual mistake.
jc: Thank you.
DB: And I think I'd like to ask your readers, especially the Republican ones, what are they so afraid of? There are only four weeks left to defend a substantial lead against a latecomer. Run and win. Unless you could only beat Torricelli, a candidate with a millstone hanging around his neck.
jc: Sounds to me like a fixed political game in this state, much like Florida for the GOP. Chance of Gore getting out of there with a fair shake was nil. I think a goon like Forrester has to know that.
DB: We don't even need Jersey. Take my word for it.
jc: You're going down. I'm looking forward to watching the Bush administration ride an all-Republican congress into war and recession.
DB: You're an ass.
jc: Clever like an ass.

© James Campion October 2002


Mid-Term Madness
James Campion
The House will stay Republican

Mr. Campion,
I have been reading your work for over two years now off and on and I must say although you often infuriate me I more than admit to being considerably moved by your "NYC - One Year Later" column. I sent copies to friends who were in New York that day. People who live and work near Ground Zero, and one who is a NYC Fireman. They all appreciated your raw truth about the survivor in all of us, and how people must come back, and always come back from tragedy, especially New Yorkers.
Speaking for all of my friends, and reluctantly myself, we thank you for your words. Sometimes well-voiced sentiments are the cure for sorrow.
Barry S.

Reality Check,
Hard to believe it is a year already.
You know what I learned this year? This country is not so tough, we just have a lot more bombs then everyone else.
We all depend on the government to protect us.
G Johnny 77

Your humanity is surprising, if not welcomed.

Dear JC,
As a native of the New York Metro area who has traveled all over the world, and had to try to explain to others that New Yorkers were not rude, just in a hurry, and not loud but just trying to be heard above the cacophony of noise around us. 9/11 showed New Yorkers at their finest, after the initial shock of the roundhouse thrown at us by the psychos from the Middle-East, we picked ourselves up dusted ourselves off and started to rebuild and repair Zero, and our lives and businesses. I spent about 30 days from 9/13 until 5/30 down at zero doing environmental testing (you don't want to know what was down there) and submitting reports to insurance companies. I can tell you that every one of us had a new sense of dedication and determination to get the job done, and to get the bastards who did this.
Watching GWB on the TV from a bar in Tribeca on 9/14 with his arm around that fireman telling us and the rest of the world the people who knocked these buildings down would be hearing from us and soon. The latest report is OBL is buried under a mountain with his goats in Afghanistan. We are going to get rid of the other smiling bastard in Baghdad next.
PS is it me or does the fact that Ramzi Yusef the organizer of the 93 WTC bombing and the attempt to Blow up 16 American Airliners from Manila in 96(with the help of Mohamed Said (OBL's subordinate)) is now living in Baghdad (according to the NY TIMES) just a coincidence or was Saddam involved with OBL in the 9/11 project? We will, of course, find out eventually, but I am so proud to be a New Yorker after what we as a people have shown the world since 9/11.
Now let us continue to Kick Ass and Take the names of all of those who think they can do things like 9/11 to New Yorkers and get away with it.

George Bush Sr's hands are filled with the blood of those poor innocent victims of 9/11 in NYC and everywhere else. Why isn't anyone beside yourself asking why in the hell American troops need to be all over the place in the Middle East, beyond working for the Bush family oil concerns. The Republicans have screwed us this time for good, and this Royal Bush Family crap has doomed America to a lifetime of defending our SAFETY -- not FREEDOM -- (what dumb hick is buying that childish Ra-Ra propaganda) from these maniacs.
Our government continues to endanger us and we continue to wave flags.
See you in Canada.
LLBN 2002

Regarding your column of Issue 10/2 called "Mid-Term Madness": As usual you have your fangs into the juggler vein of politics…BUT (and you knew that was coming) Any Politician (curse, spit) who can even seriously consider running more than a token campaign at that level; Senator, Governor, President, ... is, almost by definition, A Crook. They know where the bodies are buried, they owe favors to everybody and Guido the Fence, and they have most likely been groomed and brushed by the Party for such a run. And which party doesn't matter. Unless you're talking about the Libertarians whose politicians seem to be turning blue (the nut in Montana for instance).
Even the good Mr. Smith (may Jimmy Stewart Rest In Peace) once he got to Washington and was up for Re-election, turned into something so crooked he had to put his hat on with a socket wrench.
Torch, Traffi, Condit, doesn't matter, they are ALL crooks.
Dr. Leftover

Why is it that the police keep getting picked on for always arresting the bank robbers? The liberals are shouting about Florida and now NJ...but in both instances the Republicans wanted only to apply the law and not change the rules of the game in midstream. It is utterly disgraceful what the Democrats pulled and what the activist judges decided. The precedent set by this ...if allowed by the US Supreme Court... is truly frightening. What will prevent this from happening 14 or 7 days before some other election if the candidate is awful and trailing badly?
It's like a softball team that brings in a ringer for a championship game. Torricelli was not convicted, he didn't die, and he didn't move out of state. He was a disgrace, but the voters had a choice and could've sent him back to DC. To totally ignore a very clear-cut law and permit these shenanigans is an outrage. If the GOP did this, what would the reaction have been? I can't wait now for the Republicans to do this somewhere down the road...dumping a weak candidate and bringing in someone more electable at the wire...all in the name of giving the voters a choice! Did not the voters have others choices in NJ...minor party candidates? The issue is not about choice...but about the rule of law. And believe me, if the GOP had pulled this stunt, I would be equally embarrassed and outraged.

Yo Campion,
You asshole. Come back to New York. The Pataki people miss your crank phone calls with the fart noises.
Good journalism is hard to duplicate.
Harold B.
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