If I’ve learned anything in the past eight years of writing these columns it’s that, as a country, we are dysfunctionally divided. Given “red and blue state” intransigence it seems the only thing we can agree on is that we can’t agree on anything.
Following President Obama’s prime time address to the nation Wednesday about defeating ISIS, especially on the day before the 13th anniversary of 9/11, it’s possible the country will rally around him. But keep in mind that Turkey is a Muslim country vital to any international response to ISIS and yet we don’t even have an ambassador.
Why no American ambassador to Turkey? Crass D.C. partisanship wouldn’t allow Obama to have one. Shameful.
The opposite of this paralyzing divisiveness is revealed in the recently published, “The Legislative Legacy of Edward M. Kennedy” about the late politician’s distinguished 47-year Senatorial career. The author, Craig Horowitz, is a longtime Santa Monica resident, Employment Law lawyer and an “amateur historian.” (With the book’s success, it’s safe to say Craig’s turned pro.)
In his book Horowitz sheds light on Kennedy’s remarkable ability to work “across the aisle.” (Interestingly, that trait is also a hallmark of Kennedy’s nephew, Santa Monica’s Bobby Shriver, who’s currently running for County Supervisor.)
Finding time on weekends and evenings, “Legislative Legacy,” took Craig five years to pen. (Or “keyboard” is more like it.) Given his law practice and three teenagers at home, one can assume that Craig’s wife, Cathy, had to be rather understanding. (Cathy’s art and frame shop, “Seidman Gallery,” was on Main Street for twenty years before relocating to Culver City.)
The son of an accomplished civil engineer, Craig was raised in Ellenville, in upstate New York where his childhood passion was baseball. Left-handed, he pitched for his high school team and was undefeated in his junior year. At Brown University he even pitched for the freshman team.
However, Craig’s first start for Brown was rather rocky as he loaded the bases in the first inning! (For non-baseball fans, that ain’t good.) But, after his Coach warned he would only allow him one more batter, Craig bore down and threw a shutout. (No one will ever confuse Craig’s career with Clayton Kershaw’s but then again, what does Clayton know about employment law?)
At Brown, Craig became a history major and won the prestigious Pell Medal in history. All these years later, the story has a full circle as his book is in over 120 college libraries, including Harvard, Princeton and his alma mater, Brown.
After graduation, Craig entered UCLA Law School despite not knowing a soul out here. “I was seduced by the great weather and never looked back.” After marrying in 1990, six years later Craig and Cathy moved to Santa Monica where they raised their three children.
For Craig other tomes will likely follow. Where he finds the resources is anyone’s guess because one of his teens is now 21 and all are in college. (Today’s tuitions and three kids in college … yikes!)
Most of the five years to write the book were devoted to research. Unfortunately, much of the data on Kennedy’s legislative career was biased. “They applauded Kennedy for his ideals or criticized him for his personal flaws.” So Craig did his own independent digging.
He printed out and assiduously analyzed every piece of Kennedy’s legislation, which came to hundreds of pages. “I tried to distill them down so that they would be readable and interesting for non-academics, Craig said, “but also for academics as well.”
Craig also pored over these laws that Kennedy backed or helped enact, even older and not readily accessible ones, so as to make himself a more credible author. “It gives more integrity to a book and to an analysis when, instead of repeating talking points on TV, that I actually read the material,” he said. “I quote much of the text of those laws that went into effect so the reader can grasp the social impact.”
The Kennedy book is actually Craig’s second effort. His first was “Row 47,” a charming self-published memoir of his and two friends’ long suffering and joyful times as die-hard UCLA football fans. (The title comes from the row of their season tickets.) As for playing sports, Craig doesn’t do as much as he used to but is a rabid fantasy football and baseball fan sharing teams with his son. (I hope they drafted Kershaw!)
The critical success of the Kennedy book has further fueled Craig’s passion for writing history. In fact, he’s already contemplating another, this on the Supreme Court from Bush V. Gore to the Hobby Lobby decision. If he does, my guess is they’ll soon be making room on the library shelves at Harvard, Princeton and Brown. And who knows, by then we might even have an Ambassador to Turkey.
“The Legislative Legacy of Edward M. Kennedy” is available at Amazon.com. Jack is at facebook.com/jackneworth, twitter.com/jackneworth or email@example.com.