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Sunday, January 21, 2007

Firsts

First woman presidential candidate and first black man elected U.S. Senator?

ON NOT GETTING SOLD A BILL OF GOODS. Nobody's accusing anyone of anything here, just keeping the record straight for you political youngsters. In all the really quite spectacular fuss that's being made about the impending presidential candidacies of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, there are two names I sort of expected to hear (not) and didn't. Which means that those who depend on the MSM for their information might be inclined to think that Hillary is the first female presidential candidate from a major party and that Barack Obama is the first popularly elected black male senator from a major party. Neither of these things is true.

The first woman to have her name formally placed in nomination for the presidency of the United States was Margaret Chase Smith of Maine (in 1964), who also was the first woman elected to both the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate.

The first black male elected to the U.S. Senate by popular vote was Edward W. Brooke of Massachusetts, in 1966.

Both were Republicans. That's probably why no one is invoking their names at present. It's true that Margaret Chase Smith ran as a favorite son daughter of her home state and never had a chance to win the nomination, but she had a long and distinguished career in national politics and was respected on both sides of the aisle for her ability and integrity long before the first feminists burned their bras. I urge everyone to read her bio linked above. It's easily been a decade since I've heard her name even mentioned by anyone in the mass media.

Edward Brooke, who was a combat veteran and a graduate of Boston University Law School, served two terms in the senate and was awarded a Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2004. He now lives in Warrenton, Virginia. The bio linked above also contains a link to his autobiography, titled Bridging the Divide. Since he began his adulthood serving as an officer in a segregated infantry unit during World War II, then spent his middle years in the senate during one of the most turbulent periods in U.S. history, and subequently battled back from cancer to become a spokesman for a vastly under-publicized strain of that disease, his book might be at least as interesting as Obama's account of a young life that's barely embarked on its greatest challenges. Just a thought.

The first that Barack Obama can claim as his own is that he is the first black man elected to the U.S. Senate as a Democrat. Two short years ago. All of you who believe the Dems always lead the way in matters of minority opportunity should ponder this circumstance.

Now you can go back to worshipping your favorite 21st century messiah or whatever it is you were doing before this brief interruption.







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