FUMO EULOGIZES FORMER GOV. CASEY
Remarks on the Floor of the Senate, October 3, 2000
Members of the Casey family, Mr. President,
Several years ago, Robert P. Casey participated in a video to commemorate my 20th anniversary as a State Senator. Even though he was out of office and was quite ill by then, he agreed to be interviewed. During the interview, he actually had to excuse himself for a time because he wasnít feeling very well, but he returned, sat back down in front of the camera, and eventually completed the taping.
At one point in that interview he reflected on the attitudes and styles of politicians. Iíd like to read a quote to you. He said this:
"If you can just sit back and view with equanimity these injustices that pervade society, you should get out of politics. You should sell cars, or life insurance, or do something else. Donít be in politics. Because unless you have a sense of outrage, you are not going to be effective."
As I remember Bob Casey, he was politician and a leader who had a sense of outrage. He didnít close his eyes to the injustices of the world. When he saw problems, he set out to meet them head on, with an intensity that truly marked the essence of who he was as a governor.
His motivation was his belief in what he was doing. He believed in himself and his ability to make a difference in the world. And because of that, he fought for his causes with the kind of passion seldom seen in public officials. If there was one quality that defined him, he was a fighter.
Sometimes, he fought with me. And yes, I fought with him. A few of those battles were classics, because as Iím sure many in this chamber would agree, Iíve also been know to bring a certain amount of passion and intensity to an issue occasionally.
I didnít always think Bob Casey was right about the injustices that he saw, and I didnít always agree with his solution to a problem.
But as I look back on the eight years we served together, those disagreements were few and far between. Of much greater significance were the times when Bob Casey came through for the people of Pennsylvania. More often than I can remember, when I pointed out an injustice that I saw in my city, he came through for the people of Philadelphia.
The same was true all over the state. When he saw opportunities for government to make peopleís lives better, he seized it.
He acted quickly soon after he became governor to rescue Childrenís Hospital in Philadelphia. He dedicated the stateís efforts to creating good jobs for working people at the ports. He supported legislation that protected the child welfare system from budget cuts. He insisted on providing health insurance coverage to children whose families couldnít afford medical care. He tried to improve the economy of the city and solve the problems of some neighborhoods with highway projects such as the ramps off I-95. He tried to make sure that schools in every corner of the state had enough funding to provide their children with a high-quality education. The list could go on.
He faced obstacles to become governor, and even greater obstacles after he took office. He wasnít the luckiest man to ever hold the job.
Severe health problems sapped his strength, but they never diminished his desire.
Times were tough in his second term; we were in a national recession. He didnít benefit from the booming national economy that we have enjoyed in recent years. Yet that did not deter him from trying to help people in need.
In a way, he was the perfect man for his times, because he identified with the underdog.
He had come from a working class family, led by a father who had to fight long odds to succeed. Bob Casey saw the struggles of the working class first-hand when he was growing up, and after he reached Harrisburg he continued that struggle on behalf of the neglected and vulnerable men and women of Pennsylvania.
In the process, he created a true legacy of service. His children learned by his example, and they carry on his commitment to helping others. The Casey family is Pennsylvaniaís Kennedy clan, without the money and the scandal.
Bob Casey held office in an era when it was fashionable to attack big government, an era when the shrill cry of demagogues across this land insisted that government stay out of peopleís lives.
But Bob Casey knew that government, by itself, is not inherently good or inherently evil. He had faith, as our founding fathers did, in government by the people. He knew that government can be a tremendous force for good in peopleís lives if those who hold power dedicate themselves to that high ideal.
Thatís why he was in politics. He knew it was a tough business. He got knocked around and took his share of lumps. But Bob Casey always came back fighting. He fought the injustices of the world with a mixture of anger and compassion and determination that made him one of the best friends the common man of this commonwealth ever had.
Pennsylvania is fortunate that Bob Casey was not a man who gave up easily. He, more than most men of his time, belonged in politics, and I, along with so many Pennsylvanians, am truly grateful that he was, and that his children still are today.
Copyright 2000 Sen. Vincent J. Fumo