Category: Archive

Times attacks, and pols rally behind Manton

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Ray O’Hanlon

His constituents voted him into office for seven terms, but Tom Manton’s record as a New York member of Congress drew fire last week from the New York Times.

The Times, in turn, drew return fire from one of Manton’s domestic political opponents, GOP Rep. Peter King.

Additional support for Manton surfaced in the Daily News, courtesy of Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan.

However, it was last Wednesday’s Times attack on the Manton legacy that really stirred the pot.

New York’s paper of record poured scorn on the manner in which Manton’s heir apparent, Assemblyman Joe Crowley, was being presented, de facto, to the largely Democratic voters of New York’s 7th District, an area mostly in Queens with a bit of the Bronx on the side.

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The Times editorial, headed “So Much for Elections,” began by stating that anyone who wondered why New York was “cursed with an abysmally weak Congressional delegation” could find the answer in the circumstances surrounding the Manton resignation.

“Mr. Manton, who doubles as the Queens Democratic Chairman, has been a mediocre Congressman at best, devoting most of his time to district politics. His chosen successor, Assembly member Joseph Crowley, has had an equally undistinguished career notable mainly for party loyalty.”

The editorial concluded by stating that as a congressman, Manton would “quickly be forgotten.”

Rep. King wasn’t about to forget. In a letter to the Times, unpublished as the Echo went to press, King — Manton’s fellow co-chair of the Congressional Ad Hoc Committee for Irish Affairs — praised Manton and damned the Times.

“Rep. Tom Manton’s achievements in Congress will be remembered long after the self-righteous pieties of the New York Times editorial board are deservedly forgotten,” King said.

“Congressman Manton and I are of different political parties, but I have never met a person of greater integrity or dedication. Not only is he admired by colleagues on both sides of the aisle for his outstanding work on the key Commerce Committee, he is widely acknowledged to have played a vital role in developing the United States policy on Ireland which led to the historic Good Friday Agreement,” the Long Island Republican added.

Praise too came from Sen. Moynihan. In his letter to the Daily News, Moynihan stated that Manton’s “accomplishments are legion.”

Moynihan also singled out Manton’s work for peace in Ireland and on behalf of the MacBride Principles campaign.

The Times, meanwhile, was demonstrating some of the nuances of newspapering. While the editorial board was suggesting that Manton’s influence on behalf of the state and his district was negligible, a Metro section report was suggesting that Manton’s departure was likely to erode New York’s influence in Washington.

The paper followed up last Sunday with a profile of Assemblyman Crowley, whose plan for Famine studies in the state’s public schools was recently characterized by the Times as pork.

The profile was up the middle, laced with both compliments and criticism, with one line stating that Crowley “is said to have paid particularly close attention to Irish affairs.”

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