Thursday, November 10, 2005

Baby he was born to run

With the shine definitely off of Schwarzenegger's star here in California, much talk now centers on potential Democratic opponents for the 2006 gubernatorial race.

The currently announced candidates, state Treasurer Phil Angelides and state Controller Steve Westly, while decently credentialed have yet to exactly catch fire with the Democratic grass roots, little less the general voting public.

If California's senior Senator, Dianne Feinstein, could be lured away from DC, common wisdom is that she'd be a shoe-in, but that's a big if.

The names generating the most buzz, pro and con, seem to be hollywood vets Warren Beatty and Rob Reiner. Don't get me wrong, both seem to be good men, and Beatty has been especially successful as the anti-Schwarzenegger celeb during the recent initiative campaign. Still, in a state the size and complexity of California, I'm not entirely convinced that replacing one celeb novice governor with another is the wisest course of action.

But enough about California. The most intriguing celebrity pol possibility isn't here in the Golden State, but in our alliterative east coast sister, the Garden State, New Jersey, where the recent election of Democrat John Corzine to the NJ governor's house, leaves his Senate seat up for grabs.

And clearly, if you're looking for a celeb to represent New Jersey, could there possibly be a better candidate than...wait for it...the Boss, Bruce Springsteen:

The Democrats need to hold New Jersey in 2006 to have any chance of regaining control of the Senate in 2007, and without that, there's not much hope for cleaning up the fiasco of the last six years in Washington. But we feel strongly that their only hope against Kean Jr. is to turn to someone from outside the the bland political arena.

New Jersey's new senator should be a person who has demonstrated over a lifetime a commitment to social causes, of not just paying lip service to helping those in need but taking action.

Corzine should chose a person who is fearless about advocating causes that are unpopular but just -- willing to speak out in favor of the Dixie Chicks and free speech on the eve of the Iraq war, and willing to criticize police brutality even when it alienates some longtime supporters.

In January, Corzine will have the option of chosing someone whose compassion for the victims and survivors of 9/11 is unparalleled, yet who realized the insanity of the Iraq war from Day One, and was not afraid to risk his considerable reputation in opposing it.

It's OK if the next senator is a millionaire -- that seems to be some kind of requirement in New Jersey, for some reason -- but he should be a self-made one, someone who can speak to blue-collar voters and can relate to minorities, in spite of his own personal success.

The Democrats need someone with a name even more magical to New Jersey voters than Kean, who would draw thousands of normally disaffected and alienated voters out to the polls. An outsider who would shake up a corrupt and contented New Jersey Democratic Party and shake up folks on Capital Hill, as well.

Jon Corzine needs to appoint Bruce Springsteen to the United States Senate.

Crazy? Not any crazier than a violent action-flick actor from Austria with steroid use and groping allegations who can't even properly pronounce the name of his home state getting elected as its governor (a job with a lot more responsibility than a senator, by the way). Or not any crazier than electing a retired pro wrestler to the statehouse. And not any crazier than another rock star from across the pond coming within an eyelash of the Nobel Peace Prize.

We've already war-gamed it all out, and we just don't see too much downside risk should Sen. Springsteen (don't you love it?) seek a full term a year from now. We do have a difficult time imagining him in a jacket and tie. And it's not a slam dunk -- there would certainly be a sizable minority who would recoil at the idea of sending a rock star to the Senate, but we believe they'd be outnumbered by first-time voters coming out in support of the Boss.

Dirt in his past? Less than most politicians, let alone rock stars. In fact, arguably there's none. In fact, Sprngsteen claims to have not used drugs, and if he did experiment, that would place him in the company of George W. Bush, John Kerry, Al Gore, John Edwards, etc., etc., etc. His big "mistake" in life was realizing he'd married the wrong woman, divorcing amicably, and raising a family, as a devoted dad, with the true love of his life. Not really much of a mistake.

We should note here that this is not a completely novel idea. In 1992, a group of Ross Perot accolytes urged Springsteen to run for the Senate as an outsider. The Boss laughed it off -- but a lot has changed in the last 13 years. Back then, Springsteen was a musical artist wary of being co-opted by any politician.

But in 2004, he was one of handful of folks who -- realizing the threat posed by four more years of Bush to the country he loves -- stepped up to the plate, or, as he might say, tried to make it on a stand. And now, at age 56, with his musical legacy established and his own kids growing up, he might be convinced to stake out a new direction, for the good of the U.S.A. (He'd certainly be set for rope-line music!)

Notice we've kept the cheesy song lyric puns to a minimum here. That's because we're very serious about this -- frankly, we'd support Joe Piscopo if we thought it would take the Senate out of GOP clutches, but we think America would be proud of U.S. Sen. Bruce Springsteen (D-N.J.)

C'mon Bruce, this is our last chance.

Don't let the screen door slam.

And with Springsteen, we'll have a vastly superior store of lyrical material than was ever possible with the Governator.

Now if only Neil Young wasn't Canadian...

{Thanks to Kos for the heads up on this story]

No comments: