of ‘Senator Pothole.'”rnSenator Alfonse D’Amato, the onlyrnRepublican victorious in a statewidernelection in New York in many years, isrnindeed affectionately known as “SenatorrnPothole.” He is “the fixer,” the lastrnof the old-time pols, to whom ideologyrntakes a distant back seat to fixing everyrnlittle problem, including potholes, forrnhis constituents. Not only his supporters,rnbut all constituents. Democrat andrnRepublican alike. Indeed, he is the onlyrnfixer, since his senatorial colleague.rnDemocrat Daniel Patrick Moynihan, opcratesrnon such a lofty plane of cerebrationrnthat no one would think of takingrnpothole problems to him. Since Al helpsrnevervone, no one can fault him for alsornfixing problems for his supporters. (“Irnshould discriminate against someonernjust because he supported me?”) Truernto form, Al appears at the functions orrnparades or dinners of every significantrninterest group. Aware of the importancernof the Jewish vote, D’Amato claimed tornbe the best friend Israel ever had andrnwon the implicit support of the powerfulrnAIPAC lobby m the election.rnDespite his broad support, however,rneveryone knew that Al D’Amato was inrndeep trouble in the 1992 election. Inrnthe Brst place, it was a Democratic year,rnand it was clear that Bush would lose byrna landslide in New York to the triumphantrnupward march of ClintonianrnDemocracy. Secondly, Al had been inrnsevere “ethics trouble,” which in modernrnpolitics means financial peccadilloes.rnD’Amato was a loyal product of the notoriousrnMargiotta machine in suburbanrnNassau County, on Long Island. Therernwere whispered rumors of “Mafia,” andrnindeed D’Amato was once a characterrnwitness at a trial of the late Big PaulrnCastellano. But Al was in hotter waterrnthan that. A Senate ethics committeerninvestigated him for two years, therncharges centering around the alleged usernof his phoire and letterhead by hisrnbrother Armand, asking for favors fromrnthe executive branch. (“Whatsamatta?rnI can’t let my own brother use myrnphone?”) Al was vulnerable, and thernbest he could say was that he had beenrn”cleared” because not actually censuredrnby the Senate nor actually indicted inrnany court.rnD’Amato’s first piece of luck came inrnthe Republican primary. His only announcedrnopponent, making his first appearancernon the political scene, wasrnLaurancc (“call me I .arry”) Rockefeller.rnI was out of town for Larry’s first pressrnconference, but my wife told me I hadrnnothing to worry about. (“He’s completelyrninarticulate, no personality, hasrnnothing to say.”) Sure enough, Larryrnfailed to pass New York’s stringent signaturernlaw for getting on the ballot.rnThe Democratic primary lineup wasrnmore formidable. Longtime AttorneyrnGeneral Bob Abrams was the anointedrncandidate of the party, but he was opposedrnby a glittering array, including formerrnvice-presidential candidate GeraldinernFerraro, trying for a comeback, CityrnComptroller and former CongresswomanrnLiz Iloltzman, and clownish blackrnmilitant turned “statesman” for the occasionrn”the Reverend” Al Sharpton. Itrnwas the predetermined “Year of thernWoman,” and the Democratic feministsrnin New York were torn between LizrnHoltzman and Gerry Ferraro. They werernalso divided over faithful left-liberal BobrnAbrams, always reliably “sound on women’srnissues,” even sounder, in a way, thanrnthe two women in the race. Here camernone of those exquisite moral dilemmasrnthat feminists love to kvetch about;rn”Should I vote for an (Ugh!) man who’srnsound on women’s issues? But how canrnanyone really be sound who is not herselfrna woman?” A complicated factor is thatrnFerraro was not quite as reliably leftistrnas her opponents: opposing nationalrnhealth insurance and favoring the deathrnpenalty for murderers.rnIt soon became clear that Ferraro wasrnin the lead, crushing La Holtzman. Therndour, mannish Holtzman never smiles,rnwhereas Ferraro was displaying a warm,rnlikable, let’s face it even “feminine,” personality.rnEven feminists responded betterrnto Ferraro. Besides, Gcraldine wasrnrunning for personal vindication. Morernthan 1992, 1984 was supposed to be thernYear of the Woman—the first year a majorrnparty had nominated a woman forrnVice-President. If Mondale/Ferraro hadrnwon, could a female in the Oval Officernhave been far behind? Yet, Ferrarornturned out to be a profound embarrassmentrnfor the Mondale ticket. The Mondalcrnoperatives might have known a lotrnabout politics in Minnesota; but clcariy,rnthey didn’t know a darn thing aboutrnNew York. If they had, they would havernknown that any Italo-American whornowns real estate in New York (as did Ferraro’srnhusband John Zaccaro) needs tornbe scrutinized very carefully, for therernis a high possibility of some sort of allegedrnMafia connection. Sure enough,rnby the end of the campaign, poor Zaccarornwas in deep trouble. And now,rnmany years out of Congress, Gcraldinernwas making her comeback.rnThings went swimmingly until the finalrntwo weeks. A week before the primary,rnthe respected Daily News poll hadrnFerraro beating Abrams by eight percentagernpoints, with I loltzman trailingrnfar behind. At that point, Liz Holtzmanrnwent for the jugular. In a series ofrnblistering attack ads, Holtzman, in herrntoughest prosecutorial style, revived thernold Mafia-type charges; “And why didrnFerraro rent a building to a professionalrnpornographcr?” Abrams, vivified, joinedrnin the negative ads.rnNew York’s feminists engaged in morernsoul-searching; “But how can one sisterrnbe so negative against another sister?”rnAfter all, weren’t women supposed tornbring a new, caring, nurturing, superiorrnaura to politics? Weren’t we fighting tornget rid of evil men and their tough-asnails,rngroin-kicking tactics? Naturally,rnHoltzman lashed back at her critics; afterrnall, wasn’t the point of feminism thatrnmen and women arc absolutely equal inrnall things? Isn’t it viciously “sexist,”rntherefore, to deny women the groin-kickingrntactics that men habitually use inrnpolitics? Holtzman’s logic was impeccable,rnbut in the last analysis, there wasrnsomething about tough, brutal tacticsrnused by a woman that went against therngrain, something that made most people,rneven the staunehest egalitarian fem-rnLIBERAL ARTSrnRODNEY KINGSTUNTEDrnAMERICANrnLEADERrn”The history of the relationship betweenrnBlacks and the police has alwaysrnbeen defined by the nightstick.rnThe brutality continues today, saysrnLes Payne, ‘to dampen the pressurernfor social change by identifying potentialrnBlack leaders in early childhoodrnand diverting them to the reformrnschool, the prison, and therngrave.'”rn—from a press release for thernNovember 1992 issue of Essence.rnFEBRUARY 1993/45rnrnrn