What’s in the cards?

Columnist : Albert Paschall

by Albert Paschall,
Senior Commentator, Lincoln Institute

Conventional wisdom holds that Tarot Cards were invented in the 15th century as playing cards for Italian royalty. Others believe they can trace their roots to ancient Egypt, China or India. Today they are a series of medieval figures that for some people have mystical significance. Believers contend that the order the cards are drawn in are sequences that can define a person’s character, compatibility with another person and even predict the future.

Can’t say I’ve ever read Tarot Cards before. But I thought I might take it up as a part-time business. You see in the city of Philadelphia you can’t get Tarot Cards read so in the suburbs where I live it could be a lucrative business. With the primary coming up it might be good practice to use the cards on the candidates for Mayor in the City of Brotherly Love.

The first card that’s drawn is The Emperor. That’s got to be frustrated lame duck mayor John Street. With next week’s mayoral primary coming up it’s almost all over for him and he doesn’t know where to go next.

Coming up behind Street’s card is The Lovers. That’s probably the city’s unions and Congressman Bob Brady. Brady was supposed to sweep through this primary and take it all in a walk. But he is really lagging in the polls. Coincidentally when his numbers went south a couple of so-called 527 committees were formed to attack the leading candidate. The card drawn for them is Judgment. Judgment is really poor when the attack ads created are so bad the major TV stations reject them.

Number 3 in this chain of intrigue is The Fool. The Fool Card isn’t what you would think it is. It’s a wanderer holding a bag of promises and in Philadelphia that’s business man Tom Knox. Leading the pack with a razor thin edge, that cost Knox $5 million of his own money, he’s the guy that has to be beat if the Democratic Party machine is going to dominate the mayor’s office for the next four years.

It’s no surprise that the next card drawn is The Magician. State Representative Dwight Evans is probably the most qualified and imaginative candidate in the bunch. He will need some magic to pull his numbers up. Evans who has toyed with rebellious notions like school choice during his years in the Pennsylvania House is running behind because he lacks cash.

Then there’s The Hanged Man. A lot of people have the scaffold already built for the campaign of Republican Al Taubenberger. Don’t buy the rope just yet for the energetic president of the Northeast Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce. Keep in mind that if the fickle finger of fate hadn’t let Mayor Street uncover a Federal wiretap in his office four years ago Sam Katz would be running for a second term. Katz, who changed his registration to independent potentially positioning for a run for city hall, would do a lot better getting his, and more importantly his friends’ money, behind Taubenberger.

The last card is the wild one: The High Priestess. None other than Philadelphia’s District Attorney Lynn Abraham. The lady who went hard after Philadelphians who had car insurance but registered it in New Jersey to save a few bucks. She’s endorsed Brady and blasts the Street administration regularly. If Brady doesn’t come out on top of the heap chances are the DA has scene her last term.

Whatever future the cards deal Philadelphians they’ve got to be better than what they’ve had. With 106 violent murders just in the first 120 days of this year, a successful school’s superintendent who has finally had enough and is leaving for New Orleans, Philadelphia’s priorities should be clear. They certainly aren’t right now. With all of its problems last week some bright light in the administration discovered an obscure, previously unenforced law that bans fortune telling for profit. City inspectors closed 16 shops even though they had city issued occupancy and tax permits. That the psychics didn’t know the raids were coming may say something about their prowess but maybe someday the new mayor will let them re-open. He might be able to use their help.

Albert Paschall
Senior Fellow
The Lincoln Institute of Public Opinion Research, Inc.