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Monday, September 14, 2009


I don't typically attend political rallies, but occasionally, when they are in my backyard, I do. Yesterday, I was tipped off by a friend that there was to be a women's rally supporting the candidate for the Manhattan District Attorney, Cyrus Vance. Scheduled to appear were several luminaries, including feminist/writer Gloria Steinem (seen in the photo) and Caroline Kennedy (who was unable to make it). Steinem's endorsement was seen as particularly strong, owing that one of Vance's opponents is a woman - Leslie Crocker Snyder.

Most striking about Vance at this rally was his serious demeanor and the relative absence of political rhetoric and grandstanding. Vance revealed his family background of four sisters and his wife's family, also with four sisters, perhaps accounting for his particular interest in women's rights issues and this rally. He let others do most of the speaking, which I found refreshing.

Vance has received the endorsement of the New York Times, New York Daily News, New York Post, and retiring DA Robert Morgenthau, who has held the position since 1975.
An elected position since 1846, I was surprised to learn there have been only 3 elected Manhattan DAs in the last 75 years. The posturing of Vance and his endorsers gave a sense that this position required someone with gravitas. Crime is one of the most important issues in New York City and affects everyone - no one here needs convincing of the importance of the District Attorney's office.

During a presidential campaign years ago, there was heavy usage of the word gravitas and whether a particular candidate had this needed virtue or quality. Gravitas was one of several virtues expected of men in Roman society, along with dignitas and pietas.
Cyrus Vance, Jr. was a graduate of Yale University and received his JD from Georgetown Law School. He has served as Assistant District Attorney in Manhattan. Vance's father, Cyrus Vance (Sr.), served as Secretary of the Army under Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, Deputy Secretary of Defense under President Johnson, and Secretary of State to President Jimmy Carter.
Sounds like a family history of gravitas...


Anonymous said...

I was at the rally by accidentally, their speeches are sinply persuasive!
It is nice you mention it here on your great blog.

RunJuliet said...

I'm pretty sure that's Gloria Steinem, not the Australian feminist Greer.

Brian Dubé said...

RunJuliet - terrible typo on my part. Correction made. Thanks