Robert Torricelli is a Gutless Quitter

Aquarian Weekly 10/9/02 REALITY CHECK


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.

“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.”

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.

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