February 1, 2007
Key Jewish California lawmakers return to powerful roles in new Congress
(Page 3 - Previous Page)And imagine this: On Sunday, Feb. 25, the Academy Awards will be broadcast worldwide from the Kodak Theater at Hollywood and Highland. In the virtual world of Los Angeles media, is that a local, national or international event?
Al Gore has been nominated for an Academy Award for his documentary, "An Inconvenient Truth," and has said he will attend. Academy voters are notoriously sentimental, and who would not want to see him accept the award?
If Adlai Stevenson's tumultuous welcome at the 1960 Democratic National Convention almost changed the path to the nomination for John F. Kennedy, would a dynamic acceptance speech do something comparable for a much bigger audience? And here is where the national and local worlds begin to flow into one another.
With so much attention on California with both party nominations wide open, the California delegation will be even more prominent. National leaders will be seeking to "speak California" and will observe more than just the California congressional delegation with renewed interest. With the Republican governor taking a progressive stance on global warming, the minimum wage and to some degree on health care, and with L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa a sought-after star in Washington, D.C., the political profile of America's second-largest Jewish community is going to be impressive.
With congressional leaders under pressure to develop new policies as alternatives to the approaches taken by the Bush administration on Iraq, health care and the environment, the Jewish members of the California delegation may find California, once seen as outside the mainstream, becoming the national model.
Raphael J. Sonenshein is a political scientist at Cal State Fullerton.