by Bob Braun on June 20 2013
Bob Braun, a former longtime columnist for The Star-Ledger, is following Rush Holt’s campaign for the U.S. Senate. He will be sharing his thoughts and his stories from the campaign trail from time to time.
I once suggested that, maybe, Snooki of ‘Jersey Shore’ should be named for New Jersey education commissioner. It was a joke, obviously, a humorous take on how Chris Christie and Cory Booker appeared like celebrities on the Oprah Show to announce how Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg was creating some sort of $100 million fund that would be used somehow for the Newark schools.
But I'm guessing the joke would fall flat now because Snooki isn't the celebrity she once was. That's the nature of celebrity. It vanishes. Now you see it; now you don't. You can chase a mirage but don't expect to hold on to it because it isn't really there. It's an illusion, not substance.
So don't expect celebrity to help much when you're looking for leadership in Washington to help create jobs or keep us out of needless wars or protect us from government intrusion on our privacy.
That's the point Rush Holt made when he called a news conference to roll out his campaign's website. The substance of a14-year record of activism and accomplishment in Congress versus celebrity.
"I am the person of substance in this race and the person who is best able to carry forward the progressive fight of Frank Lautenberg," he said.
OK, he is the first to admit he is no celebrity, but that’s a good thing. Instead, he is a scientist and, as Rush says, "It would help to have a senator for the 21st century who understands science and our changing world."
I must admit I didn't watch much of the Oprah show but, from what I've seen she is a marvelous entertainer and interviewer—even a philanthropist. Good for her. But, if I am looking for leadership to help end the income inequality that's tearing our country apart and sinking the middle class into despair, I'd rather have Rush on my side than anyone’s picture on television.
Come on. We' talking about a guy who led the fight to bring $22 billion in research and development funds to the nation's universities and institutes. A man who has a 100 percent lifetime record from the League of Conservation voters.
If my civil liberties are threatened or I'm a union member looking for support on a picket line, or a veteran who needs help, I'm not turning on the television. I'm turning to leadership in the nation's capital.
This abbreviated primary campaign does provide real choices. Rush told the press conference yesterday, “If you talk to people who know the issues—whether it's labor or the environment or civil liberties or environment or civil liberties or civil rights or national security and domestic surveillance or election reform—anybody in any of those areas will say that my voting record is the best they've seen."
That's not celebrity. That's reality. That's not a mirage. That's substance. That's Rush.