Steve Eisenberg, president of Adelphi University, is very well connected politically. Less than two weeks ago his guest speaker was Hillary Rodham Clinton, with whom he had attended Yale Law School. This Tuesday, before introducing former Senator Bill Bradley to a crowd of students, faculty and guests, he revealed that they had attended Oxford University together, more than 30 years ago.
Former Long Island Association president James Larocca spoke first to the crowd two days after the South Carolina primary election. "Last Saturday in South Carolina," he said, "we saw a race to the right. We saw the politics of division. Last night in New York (where Bradley and Vice President Al Gore had debated) we saw an exhibition in civility and grace."
President Eisenberg told the audience that the opportunity to vote is "one of Democracy's great blessings." He called Bradley "a man of modesty, intellect, thoughtfulness, courage and with a clear sense of self."
Bradley, in turn, complimented Eisenberg on his leadership at Adelphi, "turning it around and making it a place to be proud of." The Adelphi students cheered.
Bradley's theme, which he reiterated a number of times in his brief remarks, after stating his positions on health care, education, campaign finance reform and gun control, was "This is what I believe. This is what I have always fought for. This is what I will do as president."
Before giving details of his positions, Mr. Bradley told a favorite anecdote about Albert Einstein when he was teaching at Princeton University, Bradley's alma mater. Receiving a copy of a test that Einstein had distributed, a student said to him, "Professor Einstein, these questions are the same ones you asked last year," to which Einstein replied, "Ah yes, but the answers are different." Bradley's point is that we are in a new world situation and the answers to old questions are different. We are no longer threatened by the Soviet Union, but we find ourselves confronted with threats from terrorists; the old European immigration has given way to immigration from South America, Asia and Africa; changes in families find two parents working, sometimes at two jobs. " You have a choice to make in the coming days and there's a lot at stake," he said. "Why am I challenging a sitting vice president? Because I think I can do a better job. We can't know in advance what decisions will have to be made by the next president, but I know what I believe. I believe in social justice, in quality health care for everyone, in qualified teachers in every school. You know who I am because I say the same thing everywhere I go.
"We have to deal with the racial divide in this country," he continued. "We must create a society where the color of one's skin or the shape of one's eyes or one's sexual orientation no longer matters. These are my beliefs and I'll fight for them and you know I will. As they say in baseball, 'you could look it up.' My priorities come from my convictions, not from polls.
"I'm not flashy and never have been, whether on the floor of Madison Square Garden or the floor of the United States Senate. You know who I am. I ask you to stand with me to create a new majority for a new politics. Stand with me so I can stand up for you."