07/22/04 — Critic: The Schu is on the other foot

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Critic: The Schu is on the other foot

It is wrong to get joy from someone else’s pain. Still, a painful thing that happened to Charles Schumer gives a person a good feeling. It isn’t joy, exactly, but a sense that things still go right sometimes, even in Washington.

Charles Schumer is the other Democratic senator from New York. Not Hillary Clinton but the other one.

Schumer is a harsh man, quick to condemn a perceived wrongdoing, or a made-up one. As a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, he is one who has been merciless to people whom President Bush nominated for appointment as judges.

He has helped crucify excellent public servants, including Judge Charles Pickering, a strong advocate of civil rights for black people in Mississippi.

Schumer gives no quarter. He can be cruel, mean-spirited.

You would think that with his experience in politics, he would keep his own skirts clean. But he didn’t.

And he got caught.

Schumer has some Republican opposition in his race for re-election to the Senate, a man named Howard Mills. Mills’ campaign staffers decided to pore through some of Schumer’s expense accounts, including those related to more than $400,000 worth of charter airplane travel at the government’s expense.

And lo and behold, they found a passel of charges against the government for chartering airplanes to fly to campaign fund-raising events. As we all know, the taxpayers are not supposed to pay for charter airplane rides for that purpose.

The Mills people took their information to the New York Times, which asked Schumer about it. By and by, Schumer said he would repay the government $20,000 for 35 trips.

That might not have been enough, but it’s as much as Chartering Charlie would own up to.

What he didn’t admit was that he had done anything wrong. It was just accounting errors, he said.

You aren’t supposed to laugh at other people’s pain, but it’s okay to chuckle at their dumb excuses.

Published in Editorials on July 22, 2004 11:39 AM