In California, two hard-working, smart and committed women have served that state in the Senate since both were elected in 1992. Dianne Feinstein ran to succeed Pete Wilson. Barbara Boxer won her first full term that same year succeeding Alan Cranston.
Boxer's race this year is against Carly Fiorina, who, like California Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman, is a phenomenally wealthy businesswoman who has decided, in the autumn of her years, that she wants to be given the keys to a pretty big car without any experience whatsoever. The lack of experience does not trouble me so much as Fiorina's reductive attitude toward her opponent on a personal level and her complete and shameful obfuscation of Boxer's record in the Senate.
Fiorina's commercials are extremely odd. Fiorina appears, wearing more makeup than Joan Jett in an 80's video, and spends the brief time that she has (Fiorina has spent millions of her own money, yet only a fraction of Whitman's near record investment in her own campaign), telling us that Boxer is foolish. She wants you to know that Boxer is foolish for asking a military officer, testifying before Boxer in the Senate, to address her as "Senator" as opposed to "ma'am."
Gosh. I thought that, as a woman, Boxer's insistence that she be addressed by the title that she has earned by virtue of the three elections she's won in California would have gone over well with Fiorina. I doubt Fiorina climbed to the summit of the Hewlett Packard chair(wo)manship without expecting a certain amount of respect and decorum from her colleagues, both male and female.
Fiorina's ads, actually, are as silly as the idea that she deserves to replace Boxer in the California delegation. Barbara Boxer is a warrior. A warrior for the rights of children, workers, the environment, and health care, to name but a few issues. Boxer is abjectly a liberal Democrat. But not in the sense that neocon madmen on television would have you believe. The great tradition of political liberalism, as embodied by men like Roosevelt, the Kennedy brothers and current leaders like Russ Feingold and Chris Dodd, is based on the notion that, at times, only by government intervention can certain imperatives truly come to pass in our culture. They assert that leaving critical issues such as clean water, health care and financial industry reform to a self-regulating market place is wrong. That leaving issues like education, alternative energy and stem cell research to the party of Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck would be disastrous. True liberals contend that conservatives not only have it wrong, but deliberately and disingenuously so, in order to actually deny opportunity to many other Americans.
Fiorina, by her own admission, has not even bothered to vote in more than half of the elections she has been eligible to vote in over the past 20 years.
Call her a liberal. Call her a progressive. But, by all means, address Barbara Boxer as Senator, again, by electing her for another term.
Another Carl Paladino post scriptum. I hope Paladino keeps running down the path he' s on. New Yorkers like a wacky character in political life, every now and then. The New York equivalent of Buddy Cianci and James Traficant. But Andrew Cuomo is his opponent. And Paladino is looking more desperate and pathetic, while burying the long term health of the state Republican party, with every day that goes by.