Paired with the cerebral Pat Moynihan for much of his Senate career, Republican Al D'Amato earned a reputation as New York's "Senator Pothole."
The Brooklyn-born and pride of Long Island "everyman" was a natural back-slapper who took pride it getting things fixed for the Empire State. He was a guy you would want to share a couple of bottles of vino with. [Full disclosure: this blogger never pulled it for Al.]
As head of Park Strategies, D'Amato now plies the lobby trade. In our current age of bitter partisanship, the Senate could use more members like Al. A recent Justice Dept. by Park Strategies bears that out. It seems that D’Amato is a big fan of “thank-you notes.” The Park Strategies filing has two such notes. [In 18 years of writing about Justice Dept. filings, I haven't seen a single thank-you note.] D’Amato penned a note to fellow Republican Sen. Jon Kyl thanking him in advance for accepting a phone call from Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou. Wrote D'Amato:
"Your taking President Ma’s call means a lot to me, and it’s also good policy. Let’s stay in touch, and see each other again soon.”
There is another note addressed to Terry Lierman, chief of staff to Maryland Democratic Congressman Steny Hoyer, who is No. 2 to Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Wrote D'Amato:
"Thank you so much for calling me today. I’m so appreciative that Majority Leader Hoyer cared enough to have you call me while he was managing a vote on the House floor. Steny’s a great champion and a true friend.”
It’s understood that lobbyist D’Amato must show a degree of deference to the poo-bahs of Capitol Hill. But calling Hoyer a “great champion” and a "true friend." Can you imagine someone like Kentucky Republican Senator and perhaps future lobbyist Mitch McConnell lauding any Democrat a “great champion?” The flip side also applies. Would D’Amato’s successor, Chuck Schumer, find it in his own partisan heart to call either Republican hard-baller John Boehner or Eric Cantor a "true friend." Don't count on it.
C’mon, Al. You are only 72. The Senate needs you. Washington is a much easier commute than Taipei. The Empire State has an election coming up. Junior Senator Kirsten Gillibrand would be a piece of cake for a pro like you. And you are bound to win more hearts and votes than the dreadful GOP cutthroat Rudy Giuliani. On second thought, Gillibrand counts D’Amato among her mentors. Talk about bipartisanship. D'Amato is more likely to be her advisor than opponent.
Good luck with the Taiwanese, Al. Even more good luck goes to Kirsten.