Sen. Ed Markey: 39 Years of Voting ‘Present’

United States Senator Edward Markey speaks at the Dedication Ceremony at the Edward M. Ken
United States Senator Edward Markey speaks at the Dedication Ceremony at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate on March 30, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Paul Marotta/Getty Images

U.S. Sen. Edward Markey, D-MA, has long labored in the shadows of the Bay State statesmen who preceded him, but Tuesday the Congressional lifer managed something few solons from Massachusetts or anywhere else have ever accomplished.

First, he let two hostile witnesses take over a Senate subcommittee hearing on global warming and begin questioning him. Then, about two minutes into the relentless cross examination – by a woman and a Canadian author – “Fast Eddie” began foaming at the mouth.

Literally. Fee-fi-foaming at the mouth.

Watch the video for yourself.


Markey, who has been in Congress since the Gerald Ford administration, was at a subcommittee hearing on Capitol Hill being chaired by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-TX. Two of Cruz’ witnesses were climatologist Judith Curry and Mark Steyn, the writer and climate-change skeptic who is Rush Limbaugh’s number-one fill-in host. Steyn jokes that he is “America’s undocumented anchorman,” while a George Soros-financed website this week attempted to disparage him as a “shock jock.”

Markey read a few pro-warmist talking points written by his staff, then stood up to leave the room. But Dr. Curry was incensed by his attack on her.

“Have you read my testimony?” she asked the former ice-cream truck driver once known in his hometown of Malden as “Mr. Frosty.” “Have you read my testimony?

The blood drained from Markey’s face. Have you read my testimony? Point of order, Mr. Chairman. No trick questions allowed!

“Why can’t she respond?” Steyn yelled. “You impugned her integrity!”

Markey started sputtering… 97 percent of scientists… warmest year ever… trend is straight up.

Steyn interrupted again: “Do you know what the Little Ice Age was, Senator?”

The Little Ice Age! Not even the most eminent warmists like Leonardo DiCaprio and Katy Perry can explain away the Little Ice Age. It’s like waving a crucifix, a silver bullet and a clove of garlic in Dracula’s face all at once. Markey was in full panic mode now. He began babbling inane gibberish about the Winter of ’15, the coldest and snowiest ever in Boston, 110 inches of global warming.

This was when the spittle began forming on his lower lip.

“The warming of the ocean intensifies the amount of precipitation when Arctic air hits that water.”

In other words, the warmer it gets, the colder it gets, not to mention snowier. Whatever you say, Mr. Frosty.

Steyn knew now that he had Markey on the ropes. Markey was fighting way above his weight class. Steyn began interrupting him with one pointed barb after another. Again, remember, Steyn was the witness, and he had hijacked the hearing from a solon who’s been in Congress since 1976.

“Do you know what the winters were like at Plymouth Rock, senator?”

“Well, here is the thing. We…”

“You don’t. How long has your family been in Massachusetts?”

“We are new arrivals and I have to admit…”

“You should have been in there in 1750.”

It was just another day in the life of Ed Markey, a lightweight’s lightweight, a sheep in sheep’s clothing.

As the latest US senator from Massachusetts, Mr. Frosty has had some mighty small shoes to fill. He’s not a whoremonger like JFK, or a blustering woman-drowning drunk with a legacy of some of the most ruinous legislation ever, like Ted Kennedy. He’s not a smug, sanctimonious preening gigolo like John Kerry, or a duplicitous fraud like Elizabeth Warren.

At age 69, he’s too old to die tragically young, like Paul Tsongas did of cancer at age 55. It’s likewise too late for him to follow in the footsteps of Ed Brooke, the nation’s first elected black senator since Reconstruction, and have sex with Barbara Walters (she’s 86 now).

But in his own small way, Markey is as appalling as any of his better-known predecessors. At the annual St. Patrick’s Day breakfast in Southie, then-Senate President Billy Bulger would always say of Markey:

“To a battle of wits he comes unarmed.”

As Congressman for 37 years, Markey used to show up at another St. Patrick’s Day time, sponsored by a newspaper publisher in Everett, a city in his district. It was also the hometown of the then-Speaker of the Massachusetts House, George Keverian, another Democrat.

One year at the breakfast Markey was bemoaning what he said was his shabby treatment at the hands of the Everett weekly newspaper.

“Why,” he whined, “does everybody hate me?”

Speaker Keverian leaned into the microphone. “Why, Eddie? Because you’re an asshole.”

Markey came out of Malden, a blue-collar suburb a few towns north of Boston. He was first elected in 1972 as a pro-life Catholic. He is now of course 100 percent “pro-choice.”

His big break came when US Rep. Torbert Macdonald, a Harvard classmate and crony of JFK, died in office in 1976. Markey, using a network that included his old customers from his days on the ice cream truck as Mr. Frosty, jumped into the fight.

Markey’s claim to fame in that first race was that he’d tangled at the State House with the then Speaker (not Keverian). The Speaker had evicted Markey from his tiny basement office and put his desk in the hall. Markey made a TV spot: “They can tell Ed Markey where to sit, but they can’t tell him where to stand.”

He won a seven-way Democrat primary with 22 percent of the vote.

He was sworn into office in November 1976, and he’s been in Washington ever since, leaving next to no footprints, sitting and standing wherever the leadership tells him to.

At the beginning, Markey fancied himself a Kennedy-esque figure. Even now Massachusetts teems with such wannabees – K-Mart Kennedys, as they’re called. He even once tried to get his brother elected to Congress from a nearby district. Lightning did not strike twice.

His first national exposure came in 1979, when the real Kennedy began running for president. A network camera crew was invited in to do a day-in-the-life piece on Teddy for the nightly news. They were rolling as Teddy’s aide Rick Burke called Markey’s office and got him on the line. What happened next was recounted by Burke in his 1992 tell-all book, The Senator.

“Ricky,” Teddy yelled, “what’s his name? What’s his name?”

“Markey,” Burke said.

“No, no no. What’s his first name?”

As Burke wrote, he whispered Markey’s first name to Teddy, after which “the Senator nodded, removed his hand from the mouthpiece and said in a syrupy tone, ‘Oh, Ed, how are you?’”

The next night, the entire exchange ran on the network newscast.

In 1984, Sen. Paul Tsongas announced that he would not seek reelection to a second term because of his recent cancer diagnosis. A whole raft of Democrats jumped into the fight, including Lt. Gov. John Kerry and two Congressmen, including Markey. The other Congressman’s slogan was, “The state needs a workhorse, not a show horse.” Guess which candidate he was referring to.

Markey’s Senate campaign was sputtering even before he agreed to a sitdown interview with a local TV reporter who sprang a current-events pop quiz on him. Among the really tough questions: Who does the US support in El Salvador and Nicaragua? Remember, this was in the era when the Sandinistas were the toast of the state’s People’s Republics. Danny Ortega could have been elected mayor of Cambridge by acclamation.

But Fast Eddie didn’t know which side the US was on – in either country. He also misidentified the prime minister of Israel. The deer-in-the-headlights look on his face as he was asked the questions was priceless – somehow you can’t find any of the two “Just the Facts” segments anywhere on the Internet, and the entire Senate campaign of 1984 goes unmentioned in his Wikipedia biography.

Markey pulled the plug a few days later, after yet another embarrassment. His longtime girlfriend allegedly assaulted him in a car outside the Oak Grove MBTA station in Malden.

At the time I was working as a reporter for a Boston TV station, while also writing a monthly political column for Boston magazine. On the day Markey dropped out of the Senate race to run for reelection to the House, I asked him to autograph one of his Senate brochures.

“To Howie,” he scrawled. “I hope someday I can have two jobs like you.”

In other words, he wanted to run for higher office, while not risking his safe House seat.

Over the years he embraced all the usual PC causes. He was briefly for the nuclear freeze movement. For years he carried in his coat pocket a TV remote control, which he would wave around to demonstrate his commitment to reducing monthly cable TV charges, which despite Markey’s efforts went ever higher.

As the years have gone by, Markey has been seen less and less in Massachusetts. He and his wife (who kept her maiden name, Blumenthal) live in the exclusive Rolling Hills neighborhood of Chevy Chase MD, which is also the home of MSNBC’s “Comrade” Chris Matthews.

It’s always a good idea for a DC insider to own some property back in the old home state – just ask Sen. Pat Roberts, R-KS. Markey was lectured by one of the older members of the delegation:

“No living in Mummy’s home anymore, Ed.”

But Markey rejected that sage counsel. His legal Massachusetts residence is his late parents’ modest one-family house in Malden. He pays the minimum water bill, according to a Boston Globe story in 2013.

Living in Maryland, Markey has become more and more disconnected from his constituents. His House district on the near North Shore was always in danger of being dismembered in a redistricting, which was why he was willing to endure the humiliation of those St. Patrick’s Day breakfasts, to ingratiate himself with the Beacon Hill powers who could end his political career.

At one point, the legislative leadership in Boston gerrymandered the town of Natick west of Boston into his district. Markey apparently never visited Doug Flutie’s hometown, nor did any of his staff. Their lack of Natick knowledge was demonstrated at the ribbon-cutting for the Big Dig, which connected Natick and all the other Metrowest communities to Boston and points north.

One of the most popular take out restaurants north of Boston is Kelly’s Roast Beef on Revere Beach. So when it was Markey’s turn to speak, he tried to make a joke — “It’s so great to see this tunnel opening, because now all of my constituents in Natick can get to Kelly’s so much quicker.”

Markey waited for the laughter, which never came. You see, everyone in the crowd except Markey knew that a decade earlier, Kelly’s had opened a new outlet… in Natick.

In 2013, Sen. John Kerry resigned his seat to become secretary of state. Twenty-nine years after autographing my pamphlet, Markey got his wish. He could run for the Senate without relinquishing his House seat. In the Democrat primary, he edged the Congressman from South Boston, who had at least voted against Obamacare. In the final, despite a lopsided financial advantage, Markey had a relatively close call, 55-45, against a former Navy SEAL and political novice, Gabriel Gomez. He ran up huge majorities in the urban areas to offset his equally lopsided losses in most of the state’s 351 cities and towns.

After 37 years in Congress, Mr. Frosty was finally Sen. Frosty. He was assigned to the Foreign Relations Committee. His first committee vote in September 2013 was on the resolution giving Obama the power to bomb Syria.

Markey voted… present.

Once again he was a joke back home. At least Kerry voted for the $87 billion before he voted against the $87 billion. Or, did you hear about Barack Obama and Ed Markey walking into a bar? Nothing happens. Obama can’t decide what to order and Markey keeps saying, “I’ll have what he’s having.”

This is Ed Markey, the solon who was foaming at the mouth Tuesday. A guy who, as the Boston Herald put it, “might as well be in the Witness Protection Program.”

Before fleeing the hearing with his tail between his legs Tuesday, Markey issued one final pronouncement, this time on the subject of the Pope.

“I agree with this Pope,” he said, presumably speaking about “climate change” as opposed to abortion or gay marriage. “I disagree with the Pope in 1632. This Pope is correct and we have a moral responsibility to act.”

By voting present, Sen. Frosty?

Ed Markey – to a battle of wits he comes unarmed. Now more than ever.

He is of course rabidly anti-gun. Last year he discerned a major problem with bazookas, antitank devices and assault weapons.

“We should ban these weapons to disarm the criinals and the teenagers that are terrozing the citizens of this country right now on every neighborhood corner!”

Malden has changed somewhat, but even now, there are no bazookas on any street corners, even downtown.

“We need to ban assault weapons,” he continued. “We need to stop the flow of high magazine clips.”

High magazine clips? Markey knows less about guns than he does about Kelly’s Roast Beef.

He has said his proudest vote in almost 40 years in Congress was for Obamacare. Yes, he really said that.

Another big issue for Mr. Frosty: caffeinated energy drinks like Red Bull. He has demanded that the total caffeine content be listed on every can. He has likewise come out against what he calls “the roller-coaster arms race,” whatever that is.

Some of his other initiatives are a little more ominous, like the “Hate Crime Reporting Act of 2014.” Something called “the National Telecommunications and Information Administration” would report to Congress on “the use of telecommunications.. to advocate and encourage violent acts and the commission of crimes of hate.”

A leading civil-liberties lawyer in Boston was appalled: “This proposed legislation is worse than merely silly. It is dangerous. It is not up to Sen. Markey… to define for a free people what speech is, and is not, acceptable.”

All I can say is, don’t blame me, I voted for Steve Lynch. And then I voted for Gabriel Gomez.

Howie Carr is a syndicated talk radio host and columnist. Get his latest book, Killers, at today! 


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