Nowadays, it’s only Latinos, women, and African-Americans who practice identity politics. Everyone else agrees that white, male Anglos are the only ones qualified to be in charge of anything. But it wasn’t always this way:
Back in 1962, when Joseph Lieberman was 20, he attended a raucous Democratic state convention in Hartford, Conn. Abraham Ribicoff, the former governor, had decided to leave his post in the Kennedy Cabinet to run for the Senate.
John M. Bailey, then the party chairman, wanted to clear the field for Ribicoff, his protege, but the Democratic congressman at large, Frank Kowalski, had his own eyes on the Senate nomination.
Bailey easily mustered the convention votes to endorse Ribicoff and then turned around to offer Kowalski another shot at his old job in Congress. Kowalski, on a high horse, refused, and briefly the prospect loomed of a Democratic ticket without a Polish name — a no-no in an era of ethnically balanced politics.
The other day, Lieberman recalled what happened next: “Backstage, the call went out for a Polish Catholic, preferably someone who could speak Polish.” The answer was a lawyer named Bernard Grabowski, who had no idea that morning that he was about to become a candidate. In November Grabowski was elected.
I know what you’re thinking: did Grabowski ever describe himself as a “wise Pole” who ate pierogies?