Thursday, September 02, 2010

Dumb and Dumber: Lazio vs. Paladino in NYS GOP Primary

Here in New York, everyone knows that Andrew Cuomo will be the next governor. The anti-Democrat backlash sweeping the nation will not signifigantly affect the gubenatorial race, though it may well impact most other contests. I came to this conclusion after repeatedly viewing the latest commercials for Cuomo's two GOP challengers, who face a Sep. 14th primary. Rick Lazio, failed senatorial opponent of H.R. Clinton, and Carl Paladino, successful "upstate" businessman. The guy I liked, "converted" Democratic Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy, failed to get the party's support at their convention. Paladino forced the primary, getting on the ballot through petitions. He gets credit for giving me a choice, even if it's not the one I wanted.

Let's get to the commercials. Rick Lazio's spot attacks Cuomo, equating him with the corrupt Albany establishment, presenting himself as someone who "will" clean it up. Pretty straightforward campaign stuff. What struck me was his "tagline," at the end of the spot. "Rick Lazio. He's one of us." My first thought was "one of who?" Americans? All of us are that. "Whites, or Italian?" Both Palladino and Cuomo are the same. "Republicans?" Dumb idea, in a majority Democrat state. Maybe "conservative," which would include a small part of the state's Democrats, but I realized my initial thoughts were beside the point. This was a primary commercial, and the party is backing Lazio. One thing that didn't enter my mind when I heard the tagline was "Tea Party," but that's probably who he thought this would appeal to.

Being a spot before a primary, it won't be on much longer. These commercials are on television for all voters to see, however. The slogan "he's one of us" might rate highly among bad gangster movie fans, but it's a political loser, at least in NY State. Of course, most party hacks in NYS probably aspire to be gangsters, so this is not a surprise. These guys obviously don't know anything about projecting an "inclusive" image, and not alienating voters. Lazio needs better ad men, beyond a doubt. He hasn't articulated one of NY's pressing problems directly, and said what he's going to do about it, as governor. That's what defines a "weak candidate." He doesn't rise to Chris Christie's kneecaps in stature.

Carl Paladino has bought more commercial spots than Lazio, so I almost always see one back to back with a Lazio spot. Mr. Paladino, while bolder in his presentation, has an even dumber ad, which also attacks Andrew Cuomo. His subject is the "ground zero mosque," and why AG Cuomo is not investigating the group behind it. Of course, there is no probable cause for such an investigation yet, so this is unfair. Paladino steps across a line, with his declaration that if elected governor, he would use "eminent domain" to turn the proposed Mosque/cultural center into a war memorial. I oppose the Mosque, but I oppose Paladino's remedy. In fact, I'm fairly sure he's the example that everyone around the world is referring to, whenever they talk about "political demagoguery" of this issue.

Paladino has also used the "Tea Party" label, in many of his previous commercials. I haven't heard much "buzz" from my "tea party" brethen in NY (all 2 of them) about him. We're all wondering if he's just trying to "buy" the governorship, to bring his own band of cronies into Albany? As a big businessman from Buffalo, he must be familiar with the state's regulatory and tax policies. He may just try to benefit himself, or he may try to benefit the people of the state (or both), I don't know. He does talk as if he can "take on the special interests," but I'd like to know about his relationships with the unions have been, in his businesses.

He needs a new political team, if he thinks he can ride either the Tea Party or the Mosque to the governor's seat. I don't think that most of the "tea party" people in NY appreciate his adoption of their name. He also ought to know that "eminent domain" is an issue that evokes opposition within those same people. This is what was "dumber" than Lazio's spot, but not by much. As for us "tea party" people, how do we stop the media from associating the "Tea Party" with "using State power to deny religious freedom?" We can't, thanks to Carl, but I'm doing my best.

So these are my choices, on Sep. 14th. "Dumb and Dumber." This primary is such a joke that I may vote for Paladino, if I don't write in Steve Levy. The disillusionment with the state GOP establishment continues. There is just not any incentive for "doing the right thing" government, in our state. It needs new blood, and a new attitude. Look across the river, ladies and gentlemen! Neither of these candidates are in the same mold as NJ Governor Chris Christie, when that is exactly what we need. Andrew Couomo has made noises echoing New Jersey's govenor, but still hasn't ruled out running on the corrupt "Working Families Party" (in NY politics, the more wholesome the name sounds, the more corrupt it is - link) line, and he'll probably accept the "Independence Party" nomination, just to help them stay on the ballot. These are both subsidiary liberal Parties, the WFP funded by unions (and ACORN, or whatever it's called now), and the IP funded by other liberal groups, and of course Mayor Bloomberg. Basically, the fix is in.

Still, I see this as an aberration from many other races, even statewide ones. Schumer is as invulnerable as Cuomo, but Senator Gillebrand should be vulnerable, unless Cuomo and Schumer have large "coat-tails." She is a flip-flopping disgrace, and probably will motivate some independents, as well as GOP voters to go to the polls, this year. State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli joins her in "appointed incumbency," but he hasn't been as blatant a failure. It remains to be seen how broadly the "voter backlash" will affect New York, but I'm not letting my displeasure with the "top of the ticket" keep me from voting against the candidates I oppose on Sep. 14th, or on Nov. 2nd. I just wish that Lazio and Paladino would give me a reason to vote for them, instead of holding my nose and voting for the "less politically dumb" of the two. Neither has a chance against Cuomo, but I'll be following it, with a critical eye.

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