Sunday, April 26, 2015
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Gail Collins: the panda angle

GailCollinsW

By
From page A9 | August 10, 2014 |

About politics and pandas …

This is obviously an attempt to get your attention by bringing up a cute and cuddly animal. But give me a break. It’s August.

Congress, as you know, has gone on vacation after setting a spectacular record for nonachievement. Some members are now home, preparing for hard-fought re-election battles in districts where nobody can predict the outcome. That would be about 12 of them. Others are preparing to campaign obsessively even though it’s already obvious that they’re going to win.

And then a bunch of them are off on trips. Because, August.

Rep. Carolyn Maloney, a veteran New York Democrat, is in China on an expedition financed by the Chinese People’s Institute of Foreign Affairs. While she’s there, she’ll be making the usual round of meetings and tours. Also, she’ll be visiting a national panda research base — from which, Maloney has suggested a time or 12, she would like to get a couple of bears for New York City.

“The greatest city in the world deserves two pandas,” she told the Daily News.

Controversy arose when Maloney’s Republican opponent, Nick Di Iorio, complained that the congresswoman should be thinking about serious problems like jobs and Israel, where he is going on his trip.

“It’s not a time we have a luxury of bringing back animals for a zoo,” he declared in a phone interview.

I’m not sure this is true. We all know that we’re not going to be getting a thing out of Congress next year, no matter who wins the elections. In that case, wouldn’t it be cool to have a panda?

It’s kind of metaphysical, really.

Or pragmatic. A happy electorate is an electorate with extremely low expectations. Congress never should have abolished earmarks. If we still had earmarks, we could just send these people off to Washington, cross our fingers and hope they’ll come home with a new highway exit.

While it is true that I once wrote that Carolyn Maloney is the kind of politician who would pander to a doorknob, this bear quest seems like a totally worthy endeavor. Even though there are no zoos in her district.

On the other hand, you cannot blame Di Iorio for raising the issue, since his options for getting media attention are pretty much limited to walking down Broadway naked or mentioning an adorable animal. (Or maybe starring in a reality TV show about hopeless congressional candidates. This did come up, but Di Iorio says he decided to drop the idea even before it became clear that the promoter was not going to be able to sell the series.)

Anyhow, the district is so heavily Democratic that the panda itself would win if it had the party line on the ballot. “Carolyn Maloney couldn’t lose if she tried,” said David Wasserman of The Cook Political Report.

Most Americans already know that their congressional elections are foregone conclusions. The Cook Report estimates 364 of the House races are in that general category. Meanwhile, there are 16 that are really competitive, about two dozen that are sort of competitive, and 32 others in which the challenger at least has a reason to get out of bed in the morning.

So Maloney’s constituents may look back at the panda exchange as the dramatic high point of the election season. And they will be luckier than a lot of other voters. I live in a district where the Democratic congressional candidate once won even though he was dead. Another time the Democrat was alive, but his challenger was a convicted arsonist.

Of course, there’s no such thing as an absolute shoo-in. Remember Eric Cantor! Cantor’s defeat showed that the system really did work and that even the House majority leader can lose a can’t-lose contest if he has an extremely irritating personality and spends the first half of Election Day out of town having breakfast with lobbyists. So there’s that.

Everyone’s been wondering whether California’s new nonpartisan primary system will improve the caliber of candidates, including long-shot challengers. We will see. This fall, in the district that includes Santa Barbara, Lois Capps, the Democratic incumbent, is facing Chris Mitchum, the 70-year-old son of Robert Mitchum whose own acting career included an important role in “Real Men Don’t Eat Gummi Bears.”

It’s a liberal district, and Chris Mitchum is a tea party stalwart who claims he was blacklisted by Hollywood for having accepted a part in a John Wayne movie. Really, Carolyn Maloney constituents, thank your lucky stars.

But we were talking about the metaphysical implications of the panda controversy.

The biggest of which involves an important detail: Maloney is not literally getting anything in China.

“It’s a long-term project,” said a spokesman. “She will not be returning from this particular trip with a panda.”

Democrat proposes panda. Republican complains about panda. There actually is no panda. It’s the circle of life.

— The New York Times

Comments

comments

New York Times News Service

.

News

 
 
Davis team wins world robotics championship

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Nepal quake death toll exceeds 1,800

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2 | Gallery

Spring storm delivers late rain, snow to Northern California

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
At the Pond: Plenty of pleasures in our bioregion

By Jean Jackman | From Page: A3 | Gallery

Free Family Bike Clinic set Sunday

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Pioneering organic chef presents her memoir Monday

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

Suspect in UCD assault arrested

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A4

 
Dog park marks anniversary with cleanup

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

Rail-safety bill passes Senate committee

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

 
Watch them in action

By Julia Ann Easley | From Page: A5

Stocks rise on tech earnings; Nasdaq adds to record

By The Associated Press | From Page: A8

 
Dodd speaks as part of public policy series

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A9

We did it (together)!

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A10

 
$2.72 million judgment ordered against Dollar Tree Stores

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A10

UCD hosts bike auction Saturday, May 2

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11 | Gallery

 
Fly Fishers to hear about advanced streamer tactics on Tuesday

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A11 | Gallery

Bicycle activist will speak Monday at Hall of Fame

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11 | Gallery

 
.

Forum

Those texts still linger

By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B6

 
New ways of giving locally and beyond

By Marion Franck | From Page: B6

 
Study questions accuracy of tumor gene mapping

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

Tom Meyer cartoon

By Debbie Davis | From Page: A12

 
Poker proceeds help youths

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A12

Invest in water of the future

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A12

 
Water, water everywhere?

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A12

Mayor’s Corner: A spirit of renewal permeates Davis

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A12

 
More work to do for a safe Picnic Day

By Our View | From Page: A12

 
Anaheim, where The Force is with you

By Sebastian Onate | From Page: A13 | Gallery

.

Sports

Davis gets two baseball wins in two days

By Spencer Ault | From Page: B1

 
Grizzlies dominate young Blue Devils on Senior Night

By Thomas Oide | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Energy, fan-friendly happenings highlight UCD spring football game

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Blue Devil golfers capture CAL Invitational title

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

Blue Devil swimmers are up to the challenge

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
UCD roundup: Aggies reach water polo semifinals

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2

Babich brings the heat as DHS girls stick it to Oak Ridge

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B12 | Gallery

 
DHS softball struggles continue against Sheldon

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B12 | Gallery

.

Features

.

Arts

History comes alive in ‘The Sacramento Picture’

By Derrick Bang | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
.

Business

Yolo County real estate sales

By Zoe Juanitas | From Page: A7

 
Big Italian food, sports bar to fill Little Prague

By Wendy Weitzel | From Page: A7 | Gallery

Comcast announces speed upgrade

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8

 
Davis Roots hires new general manager

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8

 
.

Obituaries

 
Whitney Joy Engler

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

Valente Forrest Dolcini

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

 
.

Comics

Comics: Sunday, April 26, 2015

By Creator | From Page: B8