I've had a lot on my mind lately. There's the situation in Ukraine, and the aggression of Vladimir Putin's Russia. The fact that the United States hasn't -- I don't know... sent Slim Pickens into Crimea atop a nuclear-tipped missile?...has caused some Republican senators to use this word to describe President Obama and his foreign policy: "Feckless." I'm not sure what "feck" even looks like, but I do think when it comes to Ukraine it might make sense to try diplomatic pressure first, which is what we're doing.
I do think if there is such a thing as "feck," my colleagues at the Daily News. Wendy Ruderman and Barbara Leker, definitely have it. Just today I was reading this interview about their exciting new book, Busted! and I was reminded that one of the things that impressed me most about their reporting that won a Pulitzer Prize in 2011. It was how the bullies from the Fraternal Order of Police tried to scare them away from the story -- fully expecting these two lady journalists would surely back down, just as most every so-called political leader they've dealt with has done. Instead, they dug in and reported even harder -- which is why Laker and Ruderman are a civic treasure.
Then we have Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey, a man who apparently had a feck-ectomy at some point in his life.
Recently, Obama nominated Debo P. Adegbile to head the civil rights unit in the U.S. Justice Department, a critical job It is hard to imagine a more all-American story: Adegbile was born in New York City a child of immigrants who experienced poverty and even homelessness. Given a few breaks (he was a child actor on "Seseme Street" for a time), Adegbile went on to law school, and after working in private practice joined the NAACP and eventually became head of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, the same post that eventual Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall once held.
One of the cases that the Fund took on while Adegbile was there was arguing that convicted Philadelphia cop killer Mumia Abu-Jamal should not receive the death penalty, in part because of racial disparities in jury selection before his trial.
Now, I've made it clear how I feel about Abu-Jamal -- the guy murdered a cop in cold blood and widowed Maureen Faulkner. I have no sympathy for him and I hope he spend the rest of his days behind bars, contemplating the evil thing he's done. i don't think he should be executed because I believe the death penalty is barbaric -- so does almost every other civilized nation, and so do about four in ten Americans, the highest number in years.Beyond that, those of us who believe in an American way of justice believe that even a cop killer like Abu-Jamal deserves a defense (and an appeal) from qualified and presumably decent attorneys. Adegbile wasn't arguing for Abu-Jamal's innocence, just that he be spared the death penalty. Over the years, hundreds of men and women who've defended murderers have become judges, pillars of their community, even U.S. senators.
That's the American way. But someone forgot to tell Sen. Bob Casey.
On Friday, the day of the week preferred by cowards for revealing their cowardly decisions, Casey announced that he could not support Adegbile. In addition to feck, Casey is also apparently lacking is something that the journalists Laker and Ruderman were ab\le to display, which is cojones. Faced with the choice of voting for a good man or responding to the bullying tactics of the Fraternal Order of Police, Casey wilted. I don't know why that's a surprise. Spinelessness has been a trademark of Casey's career; even when one agrees with him, as I did on gun-buyer background checks, you start asking yourself: Where the heck did that come from? What does Bob Casey stand for?
Cowards tend to congregate, and so Casey's chickenry encouraged six other feckless wonders -- Pryor, Walsh, Manchin, Heitkamp, Donnelly, and Coons (say it ain't so, Chris) -- to join in and torpedo Adegbile, whose nomination went down today on a 47-52 vote.