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Chuck Schumer’s Tired Vanity Act Needs a Rest

March 20, 2024

The time has come for Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to pack his bags and shuffle back home to Brooklyn.

The New York Democrat has been around politics way too long. Aside from being a politician, he’s never held a real job since graduating from Harvard Law School nearly a half-century ago. And as they say about washed-up pitchers in baseball: He seems to have lost his fastball.

But like many a career politician, Schumer, 73, is the last to realize it. He clearly showed last week that he is losing his stuff when he recklessly overstepped his bounds and publicly called on duly elected Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, embroiled in a war with Hamas, to step down and hold new elections.

“At this critical juncture, I believe a new election is the only way to allow for a healthy and open decision-making process about the future of Israel at a time when so many Israelis have lost confidence on the vision and direction of their government,” said Schumer, who is Jewish.

That’s like a leader in the Knesset, Israel’s top legislative body, calling on President Biden to quit. Such a bold order would be greeted here in the U.S. with laughter and scorn. Israelis, who view America as its moral and stalwart protector from those intent on destroying the Jewish state, were disconcerted – and appalled at the implications of Schumer’s implied threats. An obviously miffed Netanyahu called the Senate leader’s remarks “wholly inappropriate.”

“We're not a banana republic,” the Israeli prime minister said. “The people of Israel will choose when they'll have elections, who they will elect and it's not something that will be forced upon us.” 

However, such brash and intrusive declarations by Schumer came as no surprise to many veteran political reporters and analysts in Washington. Schumer has been loudly and aggressively throwing his political weight around for nearly half a century – basking in the media spotlight that went along with it, and clearly loving it. An old joke among news reporters covering Congress is that the most dangerous place to stand on Capitol Hill is between Chuck Schumer and a television camera.

Aside from politics, Schumer has never held a real job as an adult. After graduating from Harvard Law School in 1974, his biography is basically a political rap sheet.

While still in law school, he ran for a seat in the New York State Assembly and represented a heavily Democratic district in Brooklyn from 1974 to 1980. When one of Brookyn’s seats in Congress opened, Schumer quickly jumped into the fray. He won election in that heavily Democratic district and served in the House until 1999.

After 18 years in the House, Schumer, by now a career politician, decided to climb even higher on the legislative ladder. In 1998, he challenged three-term incumbent New York Republican Sen. Al D’Amato and won in a bitterly contested statewide race. Schumer has been in the Senate ever since – nearly 25 years – winning reelection four more times.

Way back in 1975, when Schumer was a rookie in the New York State Assembly, he quickly won a reputation among Albany reporters as a guy who never shuts up. He would leap to his feet and express his views on the most mundane of bills, causing news reporters in the chamber to audibly groan, “Oh no, Schumer again!”

Nearly a half-century later, little has changed. It’s time to give that tired act a rest.

This article was originally published by RealClearPolitics and made available via RealClearWire.

Richard Benedetto is a retired USA Today White House correspondent and columnist. He covered New York State government and politics in Albany for Gannett News Service, 1976-82. He has taught political science and journalism at American University and in The Fund For American Studies programs at Georgetown and George Mason Universities for the past 17 years.

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