Sunday, December 6, 2009

I Have Seen The Future -- His Name Is David Hoffman

David Hoffman clerked for Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist.

But if you're like me, you demand more . . . .

Yes, he's had a long career as a prosecutor. He's got all the right degrees, and has done various kinds of government service in Washington, D.C. He even has a remarkable "Mr. Clean" personna as the Inspector General of the City of Chicago -- one who has been willing to stand up to Mayor Daley. And yet . . . That's all fine, I thought, but now let's hear something that's truly senatorial."

And goodness knows we need somebody senatorial. We can only coast for so long on the euphoria of having given the nation Barack Obama. We need to fill that seat. Phantom limb syndrome is starting to set in.

So I went to the "Hoffman for Illinois" reception in Evanston this morning determined to be a tough sell. However, David was only talking for about two minutes before I started to feel my guard go down. He is the kind of smart, likable, articulate person who immediately makes you feel comfortable. After seven or eight minutes, I started to feel optimistic, and I could feel the mood in the room getting warmer by the minute. And after about fifteen minutes of listening to him, people were smiling, and heads were nodding, and it dawned on me: this is okay! . . no . . . not just okay . . . this guy's got it!

We all come to candidates with particular areas of interest, and I'm no different. So my ears really perked up when David talked about his experience reducing the homicide rate in Chicago -- both through traditional prosecutions as well as through more experimental "community policing" approaches. I also thought his views on the role of government in improving the credit environment and encouraging new business formation were very sensible. And so was his understanding of the impact of health insurance costs in constraining business expansion and new business formation.

What I liked most about him was his qualifications for tackling what is, in my opinion, the biggest problem facing our country: how to wage the War on Terror. In my opinion, the U.S. Senate needs to get out in front and lead on two enormous questions:

  • is fighting terrorism fundamentally a military operation? or a law enforcement operation?

  • do old-fashioned notions of "Constitutional rights" still apply when you're fighting terrorism?

Hoffman certainly seemed smart enough and serious enough to be great at addressing those questions. And then it occurred to me: Hoffman is ideally qualified to take on those questions: his career has been all about law enforcement and constitutional law!

So: in my opinion, Illinois, and the country, will be very well-served by having a senator like David Hoffman.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, Hoffman did allay the assembled crowd's concerns about Rehnquist. "Supreme Court justices tend to have both conservative and progressive clerks. I was the progressive one," he said.

Thank goodness, I thought. Heaven forbid that we elect a senator who clerked for the wrong Supreme Court Justice!