Sunday, September 9, 2012

Hyman Shorenstein





New South Wales had local Council elections in New South Wales last weekend.  Most candidates were part of political party ticket or independent tickets where the strongest candidate is Number 1 and the lesser lights are Numbers 2 and 3, coming in on Number 1’s coattails.

It brought to mind the following quotation from a 1971 New York Magazine article “Honest Graft – Playing the Patronage Game” by martin and Susan Tolchin:

A distinguished, popular candidate at the top of the ticket often carries into office the judges , sheriffs, and local legislators who are the lifeblood of a machine.  Hymie Shorenstein, a Brooklyn district leader a half-century ago, was once confronted by a worried Assembly candidate who had not received the funds he needed to campaign actively.  Shorenstein calmed him:  “You see the ferryboats come in?  You see them pull into the slip?  You see the water suck in behind?  And when the water sucks in behind the ferryboat, all kinds of dirty garbage comes smack into the slip with the ferryboat?  Go home.  Al Smith is the ferryboat.  This year, you’re the garbage.”

The same story but with slightly different wording and main character appears in Theodore White’s The Making of the President 1960:

One year – so the wellworn story goes – as the politicians divided up the local nominations, it was given to Shorenstein to choose a Democratic candidate for judge as his share of the patronage.  The candidate so named thereupon contributed heavily to Shorenstein for campaign expenditures and watched the campaign’s progress well into October – but could see no posters blazoning his name on walls, no organisation working, no parades, no demonstrations.  Worried about his chances, the candidate marched into the anteroom of Boss McCooey one afternoon to complain about Shorenstein’s sloth.   There he met Shorenstein himself, also waiting to see McCooey, and when Shorenstein asked why his candidate was there, the candidate unburdened himself of his fears.  “Ah,” replied Shorenstein, “you’re worried?  Listen.  Did you ever go down to the wharf to see the Staten Island Ferry come in?  You ever watch it, and look down in the water at all those chewing-gum wrappers, and the banana peels and the garbage?  When the ferryboat comes into the wharf, automatically it pulls all the garbage in too.  The name of your ferryboat is Franklin D Roosevelt – stop worrying!”

Hyman Shorenstein, 1926

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