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Chuck Schumer, Yenta of the Senate
Last week I was out east for a couple days of invigorating discussions when one of the folks I was with mentioned Sen. Chuck Schumer was famous as being a matchmaker for people in his Senate office, and also encouraged them to have lots of kids. I looked up some of the articles she was referring to, especially one in the New York Times that called Schumer “the Yenta of the Senate.”
Schumer is loves to encourage his staffers to marry, often each other:
Schumer staff members, put simply, like to marry each other. There have been 10 weddings so far, and two more scheduled this fall — an average of nearly one “Schumer Marriage” (his term) for each year he has spent in the Senate.
Cupid’s arrow lands where it will, but many of the couples say that Mr. Schumer, a New York Democrat, has an unusual knack for guiding its journey. He keeps close track of office romances, quotes marriage-friendly Scripture (“God to man: be fruitful and multiply”), and is known to cajole, nag, and outright pester his staff (at least those he perceives as receptive to such pestering) toward connubial bliss.
“What’s the holdup?” the senator asks couples who are dillydallying on an engagement. “Did you get a ring yet?” Other could-be-marrieds receive a simple instruction: “Get moving!”
But he’s not indiscriminate in promoting matches, and will sometimes warn against marrying someone he thinks is not a fit for one of his staffers:
But Mr. Schumer likes to keep a thumb on the scale, interrupting late-night policy meetings to grill aides for gossip on potential couples. And he occasionally counsels against choices that he deems questionable. “Marry a solid, good person,” he says.
After his protégés are married, he then moves on to encouraging kids - lots of kids.
The encouragement rarely stops at the altar. Mr. Schumer is described by aides as a fabulous wedding guest, quick to request a Jefferson Starship song from the D.J. and eager to dance with the bride. And his focus, like many a politician’s, never strays far from his legacy: first comes Schumer Marriage, then come Schumer Babies.
“Have kids; have a lot of kids,” Mr. Schumer, who has two daughters, is known to intone. “Start early and keep having them.”
One reason he encourages his staffers to have more kids is that he regrets not personally having more:
“After the marriage happens, the immediate question is: when is the baby?” said Mr. Squadron, who is now a New York state senator. “After the baby happens, the immediate question is, when’s the next one?”
Mr. Schumer often says his biggest regret was not having more kids.
And he will follow up with these folks years later to congratulate them on the birth of their children:
Couples that have not spoken to the senator in years receive calls when their child is born. “I was in a state of shock,” said Laura Block, who gave birth 11 years after leaving Mr. Schumer’s employ. “My phone rang and they said, ‘Can you please hold for Senator Schumer?’ I had just gotten home from the hospital.”
This article is from 2012, over a decade ago and before the Me Too movement. Potentially Schumer has had to adapt his approach. But even back then, his approach was certainly very rare.
Schumer is a wonderful model for how traditional authority figures can encourage people towards marriage and children. More people should find a way to do what he’s been doing.
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