Letter FromrnNew Yorkrnby Murray N. RothbardrnThe Saga of Esteban SolarzrnNot long ago, during the glory days ofrnthe Gulf War, Stephen J. Solarz, ferretfacedrnlittle Democratic congressmanrnfrom southern Brookhn, was riding almostrnas high in the saddle as our Commander-rnin-Chief. For it was Solarz whornplaed the major role in dragging his often-rnreluctant liberal colleagues awayrnfrom their traditional dovish stance intornall-out support for Desert Shield andrnStorm. Solarz had become the Bush administration’srnfavorite Democrat inrnCongress; more important, he had longrnbasked in the glow of being the augustrnNew York Times’ favorite congressman.rnBut he had scarcelv begun to enjoyrnhis glittering status, when the fates de-rncloped problems for Steve Solarz. Thern1992 House check-bouncing scandal hitrnSolarz hard; for Steve had ranked seventhrnworst in the House b writing nornless than 743 bounced checks. The devotedrnNew York Times rushed into thernbreach; only a few davs after it had publishedrnfront and profile mug shots ofrnNew “^ork-area congressmen with farrnfewer check overdrafts, the paper printedrna front-page article fawning upon Solarz,rnreplete with a picture of the congressmanrnsitting in his armchair pettingrnhis favorite pooch. Solarz explained tornthe admiring T’imes reporter that he hadrnfar too much money and was far too preoccupiedrnwith world problems to havernbounced such checks deliberately; instead,rnwith renrarkable lack of gallantry,rnhe loaded the blame onto his wife Nina,rnexecutive director of the Fund for Peace,rnwho apparently took care of all the congressman’srnbooks while he thoughtrndecph on world affairs. Solarz alsornclaimed that man of his uncoveredrnchecks went for the care of his “invalidrnmother-in-law”; what he did not stressrnwas a S2,285 check to satisfy a courtrnjudgment against him for an unpaidrnMasterCard bill or over SI,000 for thernpurchase of shoes. Denouncing thernTimes’ hagiographical piece, veteran Solarzophobernjournalist Michael Tomaskyrnunkindh pointed out, in the leftist VillagernVoice, that the dog in the front-pagernpicture belongs to Nina and that it actuallyrndetests Congressman Solarz.rnBut more important for Solarz’s futurernwas that terror of all congressmen:rnredistricting. In 1992, New York Staternwas forced to lose no less than three congressionalrnseats, and the knives were outrnfor most of the year, with both houses ofrnthe legislature and the state and federalrncourts working feverishly on which incumbentrncongressmen would get shaftedrnin the process. An extra complicationrnarose due to a court mandate torncreate one or perhaps even two Hispanicrn(in practice Puerto Rican) districts inrnNew York City, to add to the seat ofrnDemocrat Jose Serrano, representativernfrom the legendary South Bronx, a warzonernarea resembling Beirut during thernLebanese ci’il war or even Dresden inrn1945.rnFor a while it looked as if Solarz’s districtrnwould be merged with the contiguous,rnalso largely Jewish, district fromrnsouthern Brooklyn, represented by thernveteran Charles Schumer. Solarz, however,rnwas anxious to avoid going headto-rnhead with Schumer. In the firstrnplace, many of Solarz’s voters wererngrumbling that Steve, in his anxiety tornsettle the problems of Cambodia orrnAfghanistan, was neglecting his constituentsrnin Brooklyn; and secondly, thernaffable Schumer was far more popularrnthan the perpetually scowling Solarz. Itrnhas been reported that, to save Steve,rnthe Bush White House called RalphrnMarino, Republican majority leader ofrnthe New York State Senate, and successfullyrngot him to drop the plan forrnthe combined Brooklyn district. Thernupshot of many months of wrangling,rnhowever, was that Solarz’s district wasrneliminated altogether, and so Steve,rnarmed with a massive $2 million warrnchest, searched around for some districtrnin which to run for Congress.rnThe obx’ious choice was the districtrnon the West Side of Manhattan thatrnedges into Brooklyn, long representedrnb’ Hungarian-born Theodore Weiss.rnThis too was largely a Jewish district.rnBut the problem for Solarz was thatrnWest Side Jews are very different fromrntheir religious confreres in Brooklyn.rnBrooklyn Jews tend to be Orthodox, lovver-rnmiddle-class, socially conservative,rnand fiercely pro-Zionist; whereas WestrnSide Jews are upper-middlc-class, secularist,rnfar more leftist, and traditionallyrndovish, even on Israel. Ted Weiss wasrnone of the most left-wing members ofrnCongress, even calling for the impeachmentrnof George Bush for his invasion ofrnPanama. Hence, it came as no surprisernthat, when Solarz took polls in Manhattan,rnhe found himself losing handily tornWeiss.rnWhere to run? Where to run? For arnwhile, Solarz thought seriously of runningrnin largely WASP and RepublicanrnNassau County, in the New York suburbs;rnand, on an even more bizarre note,rnhe seriously considered running in eitherrnof two districts represented by retiringrnJevyish Democrats in the MiamirnBeach area: William Lehman and LarrrnSmith, himself a leading bad-checkerrnwho was forced not to run again by allegationsrnof financial impropriety.rnFinally, Solarz decided to take hisrnmassive war chest and run in the newlyrncreated Hispanic district, the New Yorkrn12th. This egregious district is undoubtedlyrncausing poor Elbridgc Gerry,rnwho started it all, to spin rapidly in hisrngrave. Traversing no less than three boroughs,rnthe new 12th starts on the LowerrnEast Side of Manhattan, then snakesrneastward into Queens and southward intornBrooklyn. Often less than a blockrnwide, the 12th sidles into an apartmentrnbuilding here, a development there,rnpicking up ever}’ possible Puerto Ricanrnresident. The effort to create a newrnPuerto Rican district ended up with 58rnpercent Hispanic residents. The problem,rnhowever, is that Puerto Ricansrndon’t often vote, especially in primaries,rnso that the total Puerto Rican proportionrnamong registered Democratsrn(Republicans scarcely count) is only 49rnpercent. Another problem for the Hispanicsrnwas that no less than five PuertornRicans, eager to partake of the gravyrntrain, had already entered the Democraticrnprimary, in addition to one Chinesernsocial worker, angling for the 5 percentrnAsian vote in the district. And so,rnSolarz took the plunge, figuring that $2rnmillion, a splintered Puerto Rican field,rnand the substantial white vote in the districtrn(16 percent of the population, butrn29 percent of the Democratic primarrnvoters) could carry him to victory.rnSolarz’s entry into the 12th districtrnrace drew the expected hysterical attacksrnfrom the champions of multiculturalism;rnhow dare the white Solarz run in arndistrict set aside for Puerto Ricans? Thernimplication is that such entry was notrnonly deeply immoral, but somehow unconstitutional.rnLiberal columnist JackrnJANUARY 1993/41rnrnrn