Friday, May 19, 2017
One Senator is seizing the opportunity
Rising to the moment you might say. However you say it Bob Casey, a man who grasped the middle of the road as if the yellow line were real, is making his presence known in serious opposition to The Tangerine Shitgibbon.
Mr. Casey is not behaving like a senator approaching a re-election race next year in a state Mr. Trump carried, erasing any expectation that vulnerable Democrats would edge toward Mr. Trump en masse and distinguishing himself from some more reticent colleagues.Bob Casey is a man who has quietly maintained his integrity until times like now when it is most needed. He is up for re-election in '18 and may have an eye on the White House for '20 but now he is working the Cheeto Mussolini beat.
Nor is Mr. Casey behaving, according to some friends and supporters, entirely like himself — or, at least, the iteration they had come to expect during his even-tempered decade in Congress under presidents not named Trump.
Yet, as the anti-Trump movement continues, it has accommodated a leadership role for Mr. Casey, 57, the son of a governor from a suddenly-red state, initially elected to the Senate as an anti-abortion, pro-gun product of Scranton, Pa. — that irrepressible exporter of blue-collar political narratives for Bidens and Clintons and most any other candidate with a credible Rust Belt connection and a story to tell.
Of course, times change, and senators, too.
But Mr. Casey insists his higher gear has existed all along, suggesting that his circumstances have shifted far more than his legislative priorities, which have long skewed toward a familiar sort of Democratic Catholicism: programs for children, people with disabilities and other disadvantaged groups.
“We’re in a period of time where we’ve never been before,” Mr. Casey said in an interview at his office in the Capitol — once occupied by another noted Catholic Democrat in the Senate, John F. Kennedy. “I’ve been fighting these battles for years.”
Composure is central to the Casey political brand. There is a family joke about a stubborn mood ring given to Mr. Casey in the 1970s: It never changed colors.
Still, admirers say they can identify Mr. Casey’s recent spark.
“Trump has gotten his Irish up,” said Paul Begala, the Democratic strategist who first encountered Mr. Casey when his father, Robert P. Casey, ran successfully for Pennsylvania governor in 1986.
The Casey family’s opposition to abortion is enshrined in a Supreme Court decision: Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which, in 1992, reaffirmed Roe v. Wade but upheld part of a Pennsylvania law regulating access to abortions during the elder Mr. Casey’s tenure. The former governor died in 2000.
During his time in the Senate, though, the younger Mr. Casey has become an ally of sorts for Planned Parenthood, fighting Republican efforts to defund the organization.
“I think our party is a much bigger tent than it was 10 or 15 years ago,” Mr. Casey said in his office, where a Pope Francis doll is perched beside his desk. He suggested that work on economic priorities for Democrats could transcend social issues.
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