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Schumer Blasts Fellow Democrats in New Book

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,245220,00.html Schumer Blasts Fellow Democrats in New Book Saturday, January 20, 2007 by Ian Bishop WASHINGTON — In a
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 20, 2007
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      http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,245220,00.html

      Schumer Blasts Fellow Democrats in New Book

      Saturday, January 20, 2007

      by Ian Bishop

      WASHINGTON — In a revealing new book on politics,
      Sen. Charles Schumer comes out with guns blazing — not
      at President Bush, but at his own Democratic Party.

      Schumer, one of the most powerful figures in
      Washington, rips his party for being in the clutches
      of special-interest groups for too long and for losing
      touch with the middle class.

      "Washington Democrats too often took their cues from
      interest groups without considering the needs of the
      average person," he writes in "Positively American,"
      which is due to hit stores next week.

      "Group identities around the country were less
      important, but those claiming to represent group
      interests in Washington were stronger than ever,"
      Schumer wrote. "Democrats had lost touch with their
      base — the middle class."

      He charges that clueless Democrats had their heads in
      the sand and didn't even realize they'd lost the
      confidence of the key voting group.

      "We talked about them, but we didn't listen to them.
      Even worse, we were under the illusion that they liked
      what we had to say," he wrote.

      "In the 2004 election, the middle class was the
      runaway bride and Democrats were left standing at the
      altar," Schumer wrote of an election that saw
      Democrats lose seats in the House and Senate, and John
      Kerry get thumped by Bush.

      In the face of rapidly changing times, Schumer slammed
      his party for being unable to craft a bold agenda
      because it was paralyzed by the need to build a
      consensus during policy meetings.

      "Big ideas were made small; tough choices were made
      weak; bold plans were made timid. A lot of our best
      stuff was drowned in a sea of consensus," he wrote.

      He said he fears that Democrats pronouncing the
      rebirth of the party in the wake of their sweep back
      into power on Capitol Hill are "forgetting a critical
      truth about the election."

      "The overwhelming reason for our victory was that Bush
      had screwed up," he added.

      "Unless we build on our values to generate better
      ideas, sharper policies and a clearer vision, we will
      be in trouble" in 2008.

      "Now that we control Congress and because a
      presidential election with no incumbent is
      approaching, the onus is on us."

      Schumer's 274-page book is a manifesto to help
      Democrats expand control in Washington — and it
      revolves around the middle class.

      A copy of the book was obtained yesterday by The Post.

      After orchestrating the Democratic takeover of the
      Senate in the last elections, Schumer is now in a
      position to put some of his middle-of-the-road ideas
      into practice.

      He is the No. 3 Democrat in the Senate and serves as
      Majority Leader Harry Reid's top political adviser, in
      addition to heading the Democratic Senatorial Campaign
      Committee through the 2008 cycle.

      In his book, he suggests that Hillary Rodham Clinton
      first got a twinkle in her eye about running for
      Senate in New York in 1998, when she came up four
      times to campaign for him during his contest against
      Al D'Amato. That puts the beginnings of her interest
      in a Senate run earlier than many people thought.

      "I like to think she remembered the tremendous
      reception she'd received that fall. She helped me win,
      and I hope her visits were a factor in her decision to
      run in 2000," he said.

      But he admitted occasional strains with Clinton,
      writing, "Hillary and I are both ambitious,
      hardworking politicians who occasionally step on each
      other's toes."

      The tome reveals Schumer did some of his best thinking
      at a restaurant called Hunan Dynasty— "my late-night
      office and dinner spot when I'm in Washington."

      Szechuan shrimp and string beans in black bean sauce
      is a daily staple in Schumer's D.C. life - and he
      loves the free almond cookie the owner gives him after
      each meal.

      He treated Clinton to Hunan Dynasty when she first
      came to the Senate, and she immediately caused a
      scene. Fellow diners gawked at the former first lady
      and "the entire kitchen and wait staff filed over with
      cameras."

      "For me, given a choice between straitjacket stardom
      and that free almond cookie — I'll take the almond
      cookie every time."

      And it was at the restaurant where he saw the
      "sobering" data that the Democrats still lost
      middle-class whites by 6 percentage points in the 2006
      congressional elections.

      Schumer is so obsessed with winning back the middle
      class, he devotes pages to the fictitious Joe and
      Eileen Bailey of Massapequa, L.I. — the people
      Democrats should be targeting and talking to.

      In Schumer's mind, the Baileys are both 45 — he's in
      insurance and she's an administrative assistant - with
      three kids in public school and getting by on $75,000
      a year.

      Joe likes the Islanders and golf. Eileen splurges now
      and then at the mall.

      Neither follows politics particularly closely, but
      they skim the newspaper and watch the nightly news —
      and they always vote.

      "Too often, the Democratic Party ignored them. I make
      it my mission not to," Schumer wrote.

      His manifesto puts forth 11 meat-and-potatoes issues
      that he insists Democrats must press. He says the
      secret recipe to winning over the Baileys and other
      middle-class voters is a "50 percent solution."

      That means Democrats should aim to boost math and
      reading scores by 50 percent, and increase anti-terror
      funding by 50 percent.

      Furthermore, they should try to cut child obesity,
      children's access to Internet porn, cancer mortality
      and abortions all by 50 percent.

      Schumer said Democrats need to hang their hat in 2008
      on the 50 percent solution because they lack the
      high-impact buzzwords that the GOP rode to victory in
      2004: "War in Iraq. Cut taxes. No gay marriage."

      "In the absence of eight words, the 50 percent
      solution is a concrete and realistic promise that
      gives middle-class voters something to grasp," he
      said.

      But if anyone can come up with eight words to sum up
      an agenda, Schumer wrote, "Let me know if you come up
      with something."
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