Posted: June 19, 2003




U.S. Sen. Thomas R. Carper figured out "triangulation" long before anyone even had coined the term.

As a Democratic senator and two-term governor, Carper has placed himself in the pragmatic middle of politics in his own version of triangulation, the name applied to Bill Clinton's penchant for presidential position-taking that adroitly placed him between the Republicans on the right and his fellow Democrats on the left.

Carper was way ahead of Clinton. In his youth he backed both Barry Goldwater, the conservative Republican who ran for president in 1964, and Eugene McCarthy, the liberal Democrat who was a presidential candidate in 1968.

Carper's right-left combo was highlighted in the newest edition of Congressional Quarterly's 1,196-page Politics in America, a scholarly guide to the 108th Congress. It was included in a new section called, "Did You Know?"

So why Goldwater? "It was about the same time Hillary was a 'Golden Girl,'" quipped Carper, referring to the early rightwing fling of U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, his Democratic colleague and liberal darling. Both of them were 17 at the time.

Carper said he was drawn to the Goldwater camp by a fraternity brother at Ohio State University, where he was a freshman. He said his commitment ran deeper to McCarthy, even though Carper was preparing to go to Southeast Asia with the Navy and McCarthy was an anti-war candidate.

"What attracted me to both Goldwater and McCarthy is they were principled politicians, and they both took on a candidate [Lyndon Johnson] I wasn't crazy about," Carper said.

While Congressional Quarterly singled out Carper's early politics for particular notice, the rest of the Delaware delegation overcame its small size to get some attention in the handbook, too.

U.S. Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. appeared in a section called, "Congressional Half-Life," listing eight members who have spent more than half their lives in the Congress. Biden, a six-term Democrat first elected in 1972 when he was 29, hit the mark on Feb. 16.

U.S. Rep. Michael N. Castle, a moderate Republican in a sea of conservatives, not surprisingly emerged from the crowd to make the list of members who most often voted against their own party. He was sixth among opposition Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Delaware itself also wound up on a list of states that never have had a woman or African-American as either a senator or representative. The others are Iowa, New Hampshire and Vermont.

Iowa will have to speak for itself, but the rest are living under the "Curse of the Small State." Furthermore, Delaware, New Hampshire and Vermont could have avoided the list if only Congressional Quarterly had thrown in governor, too.

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Micheal C. Miller, the two-time Democratic loser for Delaware's lone congressional seat, has appeared on a police blotter -- again.

He turned himself in June 11 to state police in Sussex County on disorderly conduct and trespassing charges after allegedly stalking a school bus and arguing with the father of his son's schoolmate, according to news stories appearing first in the Cape Gazette and then the Associated Press.

It was a convoluted incident. The press reports said Miller's son and the other boy dumped hair gel and white eraser fluid on a mentally disabled student during a bus ride and were suspended from the bus for three days by the Cape Henlopen School District. Miller appealed his son's penalty, leading the other father to ask why only his son had served his punishment, the news outlets said.

Miller reacted by following the bus, apparently trying to find out where the other boy and his father lived, until the bus driver called for police, the news stories said. Miller argued with a state trooper and later with the other boy's father at a garage he owned, according to the news outlets.

The Cape Gazette reported that Miller told the other boy's father, "The retarded kid shouldn't be on the bus, anyway." When the newspaper contacted Miller, he said, "There is no story. There is no incident."

Miller, who runs Tax Man Accounting Services and Miller's Landscape in Lewes, has been in and out of courtrooms since the 1990s. He was sued by a landlady for back office rent, mixed it up with his stepdaughter's father and unsuccessfully contested a speeding ticket during the 2002 campaign season.

In two tries against Congressman Mike Castle, he topped out at 31 percent of the vote.

Asked what the Democratic Party had to say about Miller, state Chairman Richard H. Bayard simply shook his head.